Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek
benpeek

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Learn to be Selfless With A Gun.

So, I'm reading the first issue of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's Superman. It's not what I'm going to talk about, but it's where I begin, so follow the logic. As for the comic, it's okay. There's nothing to recommend it or not recommend it, really, as Morrison and Quitely are doing their thing and that's always solid, but it's Superman, y'know? It always struck me that everyone missed the boat on Superman by simply not calling him Jesus and making the comic about the second coming. Jesus with eye beams. Jesus in blue tights with red undies showing.

Well, it's more interesting than Superman, anyway.

But I'm reading this issue, flipping past the ads, because mainstream comics are fucking filled with ads, when I come across this full page advertisement for the U.S. Army. At first I thought it was advertising a new video game, cause there's this dude in military gear with a huge M60 machine gun pointed out, like he's about to bring down some armed helicopter or some such thing. Behind him are other soldiers, all in action mode. One guy has this look on his face like he's just burst into a nursery and has started bayoneting all those filthy brown babies--

Whoa, sorry. Caught up in my video game memory. Still, that guy, he looks like he's stabbing something. Just saying. But, still, what catches my eye is that above the soldier in the middle of the page is a time line, which goes: JAN 04--Never Stood Up For Anything. MAR 05--Became A Soldier. SPC Maurice Henry, SAW Gunner, 11B, Infantry.

And then there is this big, empty line, a bit like Maurice Henry the model paid to be a soldier has flat lined on AUG 05.

But still, isn't this just fucking weird? Don't you find it just strange that a year or so before, Maurice Henry, a wussy little white boy from, one imagines, Nebraska, who never stood up for anything, but he gets a fucking M60 and some training and suddenly it's all turned around and he's standing up for something. I wonder if Maurice had gotten that M60 and walked into a local Walmart and starting blowing the shit out of the kids wear isle that he would still be considered standing up for something. I mean, in a way, he'd be taking on a corporation. That's worthy.

But.

What I really like about this ad, what I really dig, in a bit of black humour, is how well this ad has been made for geeks. It begins by grabbing their video game eyes, offering them the big gun, that video game pornography, and then proceeds to slice into the whole lack of self esteem that the stereotypical young male who would be buying comics might have. That image of the geek comic reader who can't find a girlfriend and is bullied at school and drifts aimlessly once outside isn't completely unknown. That guy exists. He's buying comics with money from his dead end job and this ad is aimed squarely at him. And--and this is my favourite bit--if you thread it with the type of person who might like a Superman title, you have an ad that is taping into the power fantasy that comes dressed in American patriotism. Superman has always been the great American hero, moreso than Captain America. The Captain has always been a little too obvious for the American public to swallow into mythology like Superman and, with Superman, the mythology has swallowed him as an icon for the United States. He is the representation of all that is right and good in the American way of life. Of course, in the real world, Superman would be kicking down the doors to abortion clinics, burning the hands of scientists with stem cell research, endorsing himself with McDonalds, and letting Osama Bin Laden go free, because Superman is the populist hero. He represents mainstream America. When he gets home, he wants to shag Lois, cause he's always been loyal to the one woman, and after that, he rings his folks on the farm to tell them about the women he put into comas so their children could be born safely. In the morning, the President sends him a hamper. And here--here, within this, is an ad for the arm of American society that goes out and enforces in the name of the American public.

Maybe it's just me, but I find the relation between the two pretty funny, especially given that the first words on the ad for the U.S. Army are NEVER STOOD UP FOR ANYTHING.
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