Speaking of Superman and world crisis, here's possibly best deconstruction
of that I have read.
It also illustrates why Superman might not want
to go down the road of solving every world crisis in the perfect utilitarian way. The world we see in that comic goes through a cycle- it turns him into a slave to his own sense of duty, then it becomes dependant on him. It's mostly good fortune that in the comic they figure out a way to live without him. Superman himself lacks the wisdom to have come up with that, and history doesn't make me optimistic that we'd bother to try and figure out how to live without Superman solving all our problems, if we DID have him doing that.
Speaking of the story of the Elite, one thing in it I absolutely despised was Superman ranting about "truth, honesty, American way".
Ok, he is big boy scout, I get it, but since when (especially in dark, deconstructing comic) the fuck is "American way" equal to truth/honor/justice?
I'll talk more about this below, but as a nitpick. This comic is itself a deconstruction of a class of works that try to deconstruct, well... the sort of attitude behind Superman. As such, it's a bit different from the run of the mill deconstruction art, which has a nasty habit of going out of its way to show off how cynical it can be.
"American way" would be supporting the genociding dictator the Elite removed, if anything, and Superman comes as either naive or idiot due to these rants. It was just very jarring, Supes, speak whatever morals you believe in but don't
equate them with their polar opposites, thanks
[/quote]See, the problem you're having here is that to you "the American way" means "distilled eau de American foreign policy."
This is definitely not what it meant when the character of Superman was created, and not what it means
to day to a lot of Americans. Unfortunately, for political rhetoric purposes it's been hijacked; the long global cold war deformed our sense of what it means to be 'American' versus 'anti-American.'
When Superman started fighting for "truth, justice, and the American way," the "American way" in question was meant to reflect some things not common in the developed world. Not unique
, but not common.
For example, the US was a land of relative social mobility, or such was the perception. The phrase "only in America!" often arose in the context of 19th and early 20th century immigrants, discussing the economic success they'd had as small businessmen in the US.
The US was a country which had maintained democratic forms of government at a time when many nations were falling into dictatorship, and had been a democracy when many countries were still dominated by holdover feudal aristocracies.
The US was a country with (at the time
) a relatively limited standing army that contrasted sharply with the large, conscript armies of Europe.
I could think of other points, but that'll do. I'm sure you can come up with all sorts of reasons to declare this hypocrisy, but for a huge number of Americans it was not hypocritical, it was sincere.
Nationalism can in fact be sincere, you can think there's something good about the way your own country does things and not
just want it as an excuse to do terrible things to people.
There there was this idea that underneath it all, there was something a bit special about the US, as a bastion of democratic success, a place where the common citizen could do well for themselves without being harassed by political thugs. This got twisted around and distorted during the Cold War until it turned into the sort of blind inability to imagine anything needing to be reformed ever, but it was very real and it's a big part of Superman's makeup.
Arguably this is one of the reasons he's so apolitical- he comes out of a belief that violence is the wrong way to solve political problems. The US of the character's conception was a very anti-revolutionary state, opposed to both right-wing and left-wing revolution (hostility to right-wing revolutionary politics was forgotten in the cold war).
And yes, I know you can come up with reasons to say that's hypocritical too
. Doing so kind of misses the point, which is that "the American way" connotes something different to Superman as a character than it does to you. He isn't saying "I emulate the US government in all ways." He's saying "I emulate the things that were good about mid-20th century America, in an exaggerated and idealistic way."