Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Supergirl: An updated hero from an obsolete stereotype

I don't think much of Supergirl...

I'm not just talking about the upcoming television show starring Melissa Benoist as the big guy's cousin from Krypton.

I'm talking about the whole premise.  It's almost insulting if you dig deep enough.

Supergirl, the character, was born in the late 50's functioning as everything from the female counterpart to Superman to a love interest for Superboy. 

Let's cut to the chase, there's nothing that interesting about the character.  She's an also ran with superpowers and a skirt.

Does that sound chauvinistic as hell?  I suppose it might except that what all those politically correct defenders miss is that the character is nothing more than a misogynistic retelling of the Superman tale.

It's the same tortured existence we've seen before with the stereotypical protagonist discovering and then agonizing over what to do with their "super" abilities.  From there comes acceptance of his/her fate leading to a career of crime fighting and world saving with a few moral dilemmas nobody could identify with thrown in for good measure.

Typical comic book stuff.  Not a lot of depth there and really none should be expected.  It's a comic book character after all born from a stable of super-powered heroes with origin stories that involve radioactive spiders, nuclear accidents and alien planets.  Even Batman, a hero with no super powers, is unbelievable as he teeters on ledges of Gotham city like some brooding gargoyle ready to pounce on evil doers. 

Supergirl comes from an age of sexist female stereotypes with perfect hair, heaving bosoms and fits of emotionalism.  She's a product of an age where Hellboy or Spawn would be considered obscene if not  outright pornographic.

Does that even fit the image of a modern, self directed woman?  From the sneak peeks we've had of the series it seems Supergirl is as concerned with world saving as she is with picking out an outfit for a hot date.

Far from a pillar of modern womanhood, Supergirl is little more than her counterpart's storyline presented in a more titillating context.

 There are far less insulting examples of female super-heroines on TV with far more depth.  

Stephen Colbert frees Birthday song for Yo Yo Ma

Did you notice?

Stephen Colbert's new Late Show is a success all on its own and breaking new ground in the genre is becoming the norm.

He sings, he dances and he tells a pretty good joke.  He's topically relevant with all the witty repertoire of his previous show and then some.

He's been unchained from a role that if we paid close attention to wasn't really that far from the "Real" Stephen Colbert we enjoy on the Late Show.

Which means he's not afraid to mix it up a bit and set a precedent or two.   Who else would have famous Cellist Yo Yo Ma sit in with a jazz band the entire show and wrap up with a rousing chorus of the "Happy Birthday" song.

Which is a precedent in itself.  

Until recently, "Happy Birthday" was considered a copyrighted work and any performance of it from a late night talk show to a kid's birthday party was deemed infringement without express permission and royalty payments.  

Meaning you didn't hear it much on TV.

All that went out the window last month with the pounding of Judge George H. King's gavel.  Meaning the beloved melody can now be belted out freely by tone deaf parents and talk show hosts everywhere without fear.

Last night was the first time since the ruling that a public performance of the song was heard on broadcast television.  Thus giving Colbert credit for yet another precedent while he and the audience serenaded Yo Yo Ma with the song in celebration of Ma's 60th birthday.

It was even more meaningful than John McCain getting booed by Colbert's audience for an off-handed remark against the Obama administration.  

It's better to elevate a tiny triumph of justice than a tired bit of political pandering.  Even if it's only a silly song sung at birthday parties.

It's Colbert's knack for bringing a little bit of nothing to light that can actually be a lot of something if you bother to pay attention...