Save You - Matthew Perryman Jones (mp3)
Spiderman - Katrina & the Waves (mp3)
How could I have gone my whole life without realizing this, that reading and obsessing over comic books throughout my childhood and along the road to (dubious) maturity would be the touchstone of my leftward political leanings?
My love of Spidey is why all followers of Ayn Rand should go fellate themselves, objectively. Spidey is why I think of the Kingpin when I see Newt Gingrich and why I see Doctor Octopus whenever Romney is on the prowl. John McCain would obviously be The Vulture.
In our modern greedy world of self-interest and narcissism, what could be more counter-culture in its message than a collection of people who regularly save the world from danger for absolutely no reward other than warm fuzzies?
Peter Parker is just a poor newspaper photographer. He wasn’t born rich like Bruce Wayne, and, unlike Superman, he has human needs for food and sleep. Unlike the X-men, who are supported financially by the inherited wealth of Professor X, Parker grew up poor and raised by his aunt and uncle. He was born on the edge of middle class, and he’s constantly fighting to get there or stay there throughout his adult life.
Not only is Parker poor, but in most versions of his tale, his heroic alter-ego Spider-Man is considered a public menace. The police are usually after Spidey, and the local newspaper is on a mission to ruin and malign him in every way possible.
The reward Spider-Man receives for saving people is internal. His motive was borne of the one time he could have stopped a criminal and chose not to, a decision that led to the death of his uncle.
Is there any more liberal motto in the history of superherodom?
Republicans and capitalists hate Spider-Man. He does all this hard work for no money. His heroism fails to give him power or respect. He does it for the pathetic reason that he just feels like it’s the right thing to do.
If Spidey’s raison d’etre was fighting abortion clinics, or defending America from evil immigrants, or vigilantly assuring that no teenagers were having sex before marriage, or ensnaring all homosexuals in his webs, thus ensuring that heterosexuals were safe to copulate quietly and privately in the dark of our wedded bedrooms, then I guess he’d be OK.
But you know what Spidey spends most of his time doing? Trying to help the same damn supervillains who work so hard to destroy him. Nowhere are supervillains more sadly tragic than in Spider-Man.
The Lizard is actually a scientist, Curtis Connors, who lost his arm in battle as a military medic. He was doing experimental research on limb regeneration, hoping to help those who have lost limbs like himself. A grave error restored his arm... but only when he turns into a wild and oversized lizard.
Morbius was originally a biochemist dying of a rare blood disorder. His experiments with bats were merely designed to prolong his life but turned him into a raving mad vampire-like thing.
Man-Wolf was the astronaut son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. He found a weird moon rock. He wore it as a special necklace when he returned back home and... guess what? It transformed him under the moon into a werewolf-type freak.
Time after time, Spidey’s villains are people with high intelligence and mostly-noble ambitions. They’re often successful and well-off, and they often are trying to better the world even if they’re also trying to cure or help themsleves. They are... very Republican.
Yet Spidey tries to help them, to rescue them from the devil on their proverbial shoulders, the beasts in their bellies. Not for money. Not for gratitude. Just to quiet the ghost of his deceased uncle. If Spidey were a conservative, he'd say these villains' poor choices are their fault, and they must pay for their errors with their lives. He'd carry a gun, shoot them in the head, and sleep well at night. He'd probably only save the city if the city agreed to pay him. But not with tax dollars from the hard-working wealthy.
But instead he's a softy liberal. Because he has great power, he therefore has tremendous responsibility. How pathetic. Or, as Dark Helmet would say, "Now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb."