Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Summer of Superman: Pimping the Man of Steel

You know, in the comics, practically everybody in Metropolis has at least one Superman t-shirt. To be without is like living in NYC and not having a Mets or Yankees shirt. Of course Superman doesn't make any money off of the shirts, mugs, etc... and asks only that proceeds go to charity.

We've also seen the dark side of all of this in an issue where DCU huckster Funky Flashman set up a Superman shop in Metropolis, and as he wasn't sharing the wealth with charity, Lois more or less tricked him into bringing the wrath of the supervillain underground down on his head. The moral: share the profits with Captain Cold.

This summer has seen Superman's face or emblem pastered onto cereal boxes, toothpaste tubes, ice cream pops, and all manner of product in between. Part of me is wildly amused. Part of me is a little overwhelmed. And, in fact, I'd say Jamie is beginning to reach Supersaturation. I'm now making a conscious effort not to pick up Superman-hyping products into the house, turning down items like Superman electric toothbrushes, partly because the vibration from electric toothbrushes makes me want to vomit and partly because I want to stay married to the very sweet lady who has been oh, so patient thus far.

With every product, I sort of stop and think: Gee, would Superman REALLY want his face on that?

For example, would Superman want to contribute to childhood obesity by having his symbol on fatty cheeseburgers at a fast-food chain? I think we can assume he would not.

Would he want kids to drink Pepsi? How about adults? Apparently WB studios thinks so, because Superman and the Daily Planet are adorning bottles of Pepsi at Target.

Bottled water? I guess so.

This summer the AMF Bowling Leagues are putting together "Superman Bowling Leagues". I don't know what that's about, but I think you get a Superman bowling ball when you join. And while a Superman bowling ball is tempting, it's just an odd thought to imagine the most powerful man on Earth hanging out and trying to break 200. But maybe, just maybe, it's at least an activity to get kids away from the Playstation for twenty minutes.

I don't mind a fad of Superman stuff. After all, the Superman emblem has been a bit of a fad with college kids for the past few years, appearing on all kinds of stuff.

I guess I'm just concerned about two things: 1) the cheap and shoddy product that WB will agree to in order to make money now on Superman which may not really support the franchise identity, and 2) the oversaturation of Superman, a la Star Wars Episode 1. Remember not being able to hit a fast food joint without Jar-Jar being printed on your napkins?

Simultaneously, Superman should be out there for the kids. I'd love nothing more than for a dozen Supermans to hit my house this Halloween, to see kids runnign around the park in $4.00 capes and blasting one another with imaginary heat-vision. The cost of keeping those kids in capes can be a bit pricey, so, yeah, sometimes I don't mind the cheaper products.

In two months, Superman Returns will have come and gone from theaters (barring any surprising Titanic like success, which I am not anticipating) . The Superman product will stick around for a while, see a resurgence at Christmas, and then disappear until the inevitable sequel.

We'll be the house still sporting the Superman toys scattered about, the comics littered across every flat surface, and the mvoies and DVD's filling the shelves. So I guess I'm trying to enjoy it while I can. Without driving Jamie insane.

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