American Superman

Featured Image. The American. American Enterprise Institute, n.d. Web. 31 Oct.
2012. <http://www.american.com/archive/2008/april-04-08/
understanding-american-exceptionalism/FeaturedImage>.

This image of a man with an American flag shirt on underneath uses the idea of Superman, one of the best-known and most powerful superheroes, to make fun of the falsehood of American Exceptionalism

At first glance, the above image shows a man with a poised look on his face. He is calm yet determined. He is wearing a gray suit, showing that he probably works at a typical American desk job. That suit shows that he is a normal American, nothing particularly special about his life. However, his white dress shirt is ripped open to reveal what looks to be an American flag shirt or uniform. In the background a deep and powerful red background with streaks pointing outwards.

With a little bit of context, this is a direct satire of Superman in the context of the idea of American Exceptionalism. While Clark Kent was an average person, Superman was not. The superman series showed that an average person could be important. This image pokes fun at the idea that average Americans are all superheroes through the lens of superman: a superhero most people are familiar with.

One of the major themes that this image drives home is that there is a false sense in American’s minds that our country is infallible. That the American Dream allows all average people to have picture-perfect lives as they follow the idea of pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In reality, the United States is not the richest country per capita nor do we have the “happiest” country. There is an endless list of things that we are not the best at, and yet we still want to believe we are. That simple truth begs the question, “why do people still believe we are the best when the facts aren’t there to support that idea?” While there are probably many reasons, it seems that people are holding onto a time where we were the greatest country. We were once great and we certainly have the potential to be great again, but as of now we aren’t. The facts don’t support American Exceptionalism, and yet it still is an ever-present part of American culture.

This image encourages the viewer to take a hard look at the culture of American greatness. What makes us so special? There are tons of other countries around the world that are happier, better educated, healthier, richer per capita, etc. There is no reason for us to think we are the best. The sooner we accept that fact, the sooner we can get back on track to actually being the great country we can be.

 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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One comment

  1. JJ,
    This is definitely one of your best curations yet. I very much enjoyed your choice of topic and analysis of the picture. Your logical progression was helpful in illustrating your point. If there was anything I could suggest it would be to add a little more about how Americans often see themselves as “heroes,” especially when it comes to foreign relations. But that would be the only addition I would suggest. Otherwise I really have no other suggestions. Great job!
    -Liam

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