Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Is there Enough Irony in the World to Make this Ad Inoffensive?

I really don't think so.

This advertisement comes from page 399 the June 2006 issue of Previews, the catalog for Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. (Diamond is the major distributor of all US comics and related materials to comics shops.) I doubt if anyone at Diamond (or DC Comics or their parent company TimeWarner) is responsible for the ad copy; most likely it comes from the company that produces the shirt, Grafitti Designs.

I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to whoever came up with the slogan originally; I suppose there might possibly be folks young or sheltered enough out there who don't recognize the racist - oh, let's just say it, Nazi - associations with the term "White Power." But nobody else did? Not an in-house editor or design person at Graffitti? Not a licensing person at DC? Not anybody at Previews, or even at whatever printer they use? (Although Previews as a whole reads as if it were proofread by... well, nobody.)

In case the problem's not clear:
White Power -> Nazis -> √úbermensch -> Superman.

Again, I'm not accusing anybody of racism here. I am accusing the entire production chain of, at best, a failure to edit or, at least, a really, really piss-poor sense of humor.

While I did find a small discussion about the ad at Snopes, I haven't seen it mentioned on any comics news sites (although I'm not sure even Tom Spurgeon could actually follow them all). Maybe that just means that nobody reads Previews that closely? I doubt it. Maybe it means that nobody thinks it's offensive? I sure hope not.

In any event, I would certainly hope that Warner Bros. would be bothered to know - especially with Superman Returns on the horizon - that their All-American boy scout is being publicized with a phrase coined by the American Nazi Party.


Blogger C. Margery Kempe said...

I find this terribly disturbing, particularly given the rise in racist taunts surrounding the World Cup, the constant presence of American Nazis and the aid and comfort given to racists by prominent Conservatives. Anyone who can shrug at this simply isn't paying attention.

6/12/2006 10:43 AM  
Blogger The Queen said...

It's blatant ignorance & an appalling lack of awareness on the part of the entire group of people involved.

6/21/2006 2:01 PM  
Blogger Bobby Kuechenmeister said...

I remember a German professor at my undergrad institution once telling me that translating Nietzche's "Ubermensch" as "Superman" is not entirely accurate. He said Nietzche's Overman concept is an ideal representation of something humans could become if we overcame all of our shortcomings and that interpretation makes a lot more sense to me. Hitler happened to take that concept much too far so now it has a negative connotation. However, I am just as disturbed as Kate about the racist message being sent through association. I only wanted to clarify the logic chain with Ubermensch and Superman.

6/21/2006 7:01 PM  
Blogger Bobby Kuechenmeister said...

As I look back here, I wonder if I said something wrong, or am I still blacklisted among Comic Scholars? I honestly did not mean to bring this discussion to a grinding halt.

7/12/2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Gene Kannenberg, Jr. said...

Bobby: You are not, nor have you ever been, "blacklisted among Comic Scholars."

Having spent the past three weeks packing one house, moving halfway across the country, and partially unpacking the new place (yes, only partially unpacked, and the place is already "full" - curse these overstuffed Comics Research library shelves!), I simply haven't had time or energy to dedicate to this blog.

Internet access was restored yesterday, so my activity here should resume soon-ish, in-between unpacking more boxes and struggling to find room for more books, and unpacking more boxes and struggling to find room for more books, and unpacking more boxes and struggling to find room for more books...

7/12/2006 4:41 PM  

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