Thursday, May 10, 2007

Damsels: Optional or not?

In order to get the full effect of this, you need to scroll down and read my April 19 “Underdog” posting, or click on the link below:

Got it? Okay, now back to the present. . .With Spider-Man 3’s release last week came also an interesting article from the Associated Press. It’s a great article about how important damsels in distress are to the average superhero. Though they may be a bother, they keep us watching. Here are some quotes from the article, along with a link to it below:

They may be eye candy for the audience, but these women in peril certainly make for a harder day at the office for superheroes. Their jobs would be easier without such emotional ties, Howard said. “It’s true, it’s true,” Howard said. “It’s heartbreaking for that reason. He’s always having to go and save the girl, then everybody’s always kidnapping the girl. When my husband saw the movie with me a few days ago, he turned to me and said, ‘Mary Jane’s been through a lot’.”

While Harry and new villains the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace) exploit Spider-Man’s feelings for Mary Jane, Maguire said the hero still is better off with her in his life. “I just think they know they can get him that way. The villains would find him one way or the other. We’d have to create something for the villains to get to him. It’s kind of the most obvious way in, I guess,” Maguire said. “And it’s nice, it adds dimension to his character. I mean, I guess, if he disconnected [from] his emotions or his feelings or his sense of duty, then he would be better off, because he’d just go, ‘Oh well, people will survive this, it’s not my responsibility’.”

If Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and their superhero brethren were just invincible loners, without friends or other connections to the real world as they went about the business of rounding up bad guys, who would care about them?

Do you remember what I said in my Underdog post about Underdog not being romantically involved with Sweet Polly? I was talking about how Underdog wasn’t quite as popular as other heroes. If this “damsel” thing is true, then it shows that the romance factor is vitally important to the popularity of a superhero today. It also helps demonstrate why Underdog remains an underdog among heroes.

When I was a kid, we did not think much about the personal lives of superheroes. It really was incidental that these guys weren’t married. Hey, so what? We weren’t married, either! And there were no rumors about some hero or other being a homosexual. First of all, what is a homosexual? Second of all, even if they were, so what? What would that matter? I’m not interested in Batman’s/Superman’s/Spider-Man’s sex life. I want to see how he’s going to escape from Doc Oc!

Do you remember the old Superman TV show from the 1950s? Superman may have liked Lois, but he certainly would never (ugh) kiss her! And what’s all this crap about Batman being gay? No way! He & Robin are way too busy to worry about stuff like that! And look at the Hulk! Hulk no want sex! Hulk want to smash! So a character like Underdog fit in well with the superhero crowd of the day. He wasn’t interested in romance either.

Sadly, since "Superman II", those times have dramatically changed. It seems that it’s not enough to rescue the girl. You have to get romantic with her. And it may create some exciting drama, but it seems to put some of us at a disadvantage. What about the heroes like Underdog, who aren’t really interested in romance?

It‘s actually a little bit insulting. Are you saying that even if I could change the course of mighty rivers and bend steel in my bare hands, it wouldn’t be enough? I would have to have a wife or girlfriend in order to get people to care about me? That stinks.

But I have to admit there is something to it. As a single guy, I often find myself doing great things that nobody else cares about. Like this blog. . . Okay, back to the subject. :) Look, a few weeks ago I wrote about how important it is for us to find strength within ourselves, whether or not we have someone there to love us. (Check out the March 2007 archives for that one). But if no one likes a superhero without a romantic partner, then what does that say for us mild-mannered folks without a romantic partner? Are we less popular for that reason?

Surely no kid would say so! I can’t imagine a seven-year-old throwing away a comic book because there’s no romance in it! I think we can take a lesson from these kids. Romance is important and good, but so is saving the world. So is doing the things that we need to do every day. So is being faithful to our cause.

Sadly, I think we live in a society that does not see chastity as heroic. We see it as strange or unnatural, or the choice of extremely devoted people. And that is sad. Because at least at the beginning of their careers, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spidey and friends were chaste. They weren’t without sexual desire, they just never had sex. And no one ever had a problem with that. Until we grew up, and began to expect everyone to want sex. Kids are right, grown-ups are stupid.

Hey, how about all this Da Vinci code crap? It’s gotten everybody talking about how Jesus might have been married to Mary. Are people having trouble believing that Jesus was chaste? Why would they want to believe that Jesus was secretly married? Could it be because so many single people in the world -- and tragically, in the church as well -- are seen as outcasts? Could it be because we don’t want to look at the idea that Jesus was an outcast, too?

Anyone who would reject Jesus because he was single is someone who obviously doesn’t really love Jesus. Anyone who would reject Superman because he is (or at least was) chaste is someone who doesn’t really like Superman. And anyone who would reject me or you because we are not romantically involved with anybody. . . You get the point.

But sadly, I think society at large is missing the point. It is not a tragedy to be alone, and there is no good reason to withhold affection from someone who is alone. But that’s what we’re doing. And I deeply regret to say that the Christian church is as guilty of this as the world. We have focused so much on love of family that we have forgotten to reach out to those who have no families.

When we see a homeless man, we cruelly cry, “get a job!” When we see a man without a wife, we cruelly think, “What‘s wrong with him?” We can’t look beyond these things and realize that they don’t make up what is most important for an individual person.

There’s so much to say here, and not enough time to say it. Let’s just say that kids are smart enough to understand that you can be a hero without having a significant other. We need to be as smart as they are.


I LOST MY THRILL? Do you remember how in the show “Happy Days,” Richie always used to sing “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill?” Well, you may want to hold that memory very dearly. Let me explain why.

The second season of “Happy Days” has been released on DVD. It contains many classic episodes & I look forward to seeing many of them again. But it is missing something rather important: Some of the music. Most of the classic 1950s songs have been edited out of the show, replaced with other music.

Why? Well, this is the curse of DVDs. Apparently the music rights create an issue for many movies and shows that are being released on DVDs. Many of the songs were never officially cleared for DVD release, so getting permission can be quite an expensive undertaking which many distributors don’t seem interested in paying. Thus, the music gets changed or in some sad cases, the scene with the music in it is cut out completely. It’s already happened on both the “Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street” DVD releases, and now the curse has hit “Happy Days.”

The Happy Days online site has a review of the new DVD set, and someone has actually listed most of the songs that have been cut out of each episode. You’ll enjoy the review, but I warn you to brace yourself if you love 1950’s rock & roll. You may want to cry when you see how many great songs have been cut!

Be sure to read Todd Fuller’s full review at the link. It’s got much more detail:

Here are some highlights from Todd’s review:

I love Happy Days. It is my all-time favorite show. I was very excited when I heard back in December that the second season was going to be released at last. After reviewing it in detail, I'm very disappointed with the final product for a number of reasons. It just seems that CBS DVD/Paramount tried to cut the corners at every turn here. Season 1 had such a promising release. I was expecting more of the same. What are the benefits to the consumer when this set has approximately 90% of the original music (including the opening theme) replaced, the episodes look to have much poorer video quality than season 1, the packaging is cheaper, there is no disc art and no special features included? If they were going to make all these music substitutions, why wait 2 1/2 years to do them? Where are all the great artists like Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, The Platters, Bill Haley & His Comets, Doris Day and many more? These episodes are not the Happy Days I grew up watching and loving. The music was an integral part of giving the show a 1950's feel. I'm a purist. I want to hear every last note of original music as they aired on ABC over 30 years ago.

2) Do not edit any of the episodes. Music substition is bad enough. Cutting out entire scenes is much worse in my opinion. Clearing the songs that Potsie and the band performed are a must. There were a number of them that they covered in season three. Are they going to edit out a scene every time Richie sings "I found my thrill... on Blueberry Hill..."? I sure hope not.

Folks, if they dare to cut out every time Richie sings “Blueberry Hill,” it will be the worst event in the history of edited TV shows on DVD. Would you cut out every time the Fonz said “Aaaayy?” Or how about every time Arnold Horshack went “Ooo! Ooo Ooo!” Or every time Freddy Washington went “Hi, there!” Or every time that one guy went “Dy-no-miiite!” Or every time someone in Star Wars says “I have a bad feeling about this.” Or every time Mork said “Na-no, Na-no?” Or every time George Peppard said “I love it when a plan comes together?”

Catch-phrases. They’re what cheesy TV is made for. I’m all in favor of putting Happy Days on DVD, but please, let’s do it right. Don’t chop out something that everyone will notice is missing. May Richie forever find his thrill on Blueberry Hill!


This month marks the 30th anniversary of the original “Star Wars” movie, and Todd Franklin over at the Neato Coolville blog has been paying tribute to the movie all month with some great postings. Here’s one that I wanted to share with you all. Aunt Beru lives!