Jonah Goldberg is pissed at Superman.
In the new film “Superman Returns,” the Man of Steel no longer stands for “truth, justice and the American way.” These days he is dedicated, according to the movie’s promotional materials, to “truth, justice and all that is good.” Though, in the movie, the phrase gets edited down by Daily Planet Editor Perry White to “truth, justice and all that stuff.” Typical editorial arrogance, if you ask me!
More likely a typical marketing decision by a studio that needs international box office to make a profit.
Goldberg tells us that “conservative talk radio has surely gone overboard in bashing the film,” which I say is one good reason to go see it (although there are others). But even though Goldberg admits the “American Way” line might irritate some overseas audiences, he sniffs about a “cosmopolitan” outlook “that sees national boundaries and geographic loyalties as quaint and even backward.” And taking a swipe at the majority opinion in Hamdan that stipulates the U.S. must honor its old commitment to the Geneva Conventions, Goldberg says there’s nothing wrong with kicking off the shackles of international opinion and being the Lone Ranger.
Maybe not, but as I recall the Lone Ranger was into saving innocent people from bad guys and then riding into the sunset. The innocent people weren’t left wondering, three years later, when the heck he was ever gonna leave. Nor did the Lone Ranger run an alternative secret criminal justice system, but instead turned bad guys over to the public lawful authorities. And riding around with that Tonto guy whiffs of a little multiculturalism, if you ask me.
But in spite of himself, Goldberg stumbles on to some truth in his last sentence:
What is disturbing is that “the American way” now seems to have become code for arrogant unilateralism that falls somewhere outside truth, justice and all that is good.
Well, yes. And whose fault is that?
Speaking of old film heroes and the American Way — remember Hopalong Cassidy? If you do, you may be, um, as old as I am. But never mind. I ran into this on the Hopalong Cassidy web site:
Time Magazine in 1950 said, “Boyd made Hoppy a veritable Galahad of the range, a soft spoken paragon who did not smoke, drink or kiss girls, who tried to capture the rustlers instead of shooting them, and who always let the villain draw first if gunplay was inevitable.” Boyd himself said, “I played down the violence, tried to make Hoppy an admirable character and I insisted on grammatical English.”
That’s how the American Way was portrayed in the early 1950s, when the Hopalong Cassidy films and television series were popular around the globe. Back in the day, the American Way meant holding true to your values and doing the right thing even if the bad guys are doing the wrong thing. Now the American Way seems to be shoot first, and ask questions later. We’ve also turned We’re the good guys because we do what’s right into We’re the good guys, so whatever we do is right.
Yep; “arrogant unilateralism that falls somewhere outside truth, justice and all that is good” hits the mark, I’d say. As Superman Returns scriptwriter Dan Harris said, “I don’t think the American Way means what it meant in 1945.”