Superman and the #MeToo Movement

Superman and the #MeToo Movement

Superman and the #MeToo Movement

0 comments 📅14 September 2018, 09:50

Superman and the #MeToo Movement

May 2018 was a tumultuous start to FanX, Utah’s largest pop culture convention, where co-owner Bryan Brandenburg responded callously about the #MeToo movement to author Shannon Hale.  He infamously recommended she “sit this one out,” which resulted to a slew of abuse aimed at the local author.  Outspoken panelists, podcasts, businesses and more pulled out of the September convention, accusing Brandenburg and his partner, Dan Farr, of systematic issues with lack of improvement.

Watching the problems unfold, first with Richard Paul Evans’ awkward media interview to the doxxing of Hale’s personal email, those involved with the back-end of the convention were shocked at the responses from the owners and fans alike.  As the convention came closer and I put hours of energy and research into my panels, a question lingered at the back of my mind…“What about #MeToo?”

Enter Jerry Siegel, a small man born in the fall of 1914, who was frequently bullied at school and eschewed by his schoolyard crush, a little girl named Lois.  In June 1932, Siegel’s father passed away after he was the victim of a botched burglary.  Jerry, who once described sitting on his father’s knee as a ‘safe haven,’ was suddenly pulled from the bliss of childhood and plunged into the cruel reality of a Jewish boy pre-World War II.  According to author Larry Tye, “the day after Jerry’s father died, his hometown newspaper published a letter denouncing vigilante justice.”

Jerry responded by forming his own narrative, penning a tale about a man who exhibited exceptional strength, telescopic vision, and the heroic aptitude to save a middle-aged man from a robbery.  He called him “The Super-Man.”  The author of the piece Jerry responded to?  A. L. Luther.  80 years later, the moral compass of the DC universe and the megalomaniac narcissist are some of the most recognizable figures in pop culture history. Siegel demonstrated a very important lesson following the death of his father; sometimes it’s up to us to create the heroes we need.

 

     The elephant in the room at FanX was gently placated by the small steps forward, however the reminder of the #MeToo summer debacle still had an uncomfortable presence.  There were many observable changes at FanX, including an all-female panel dissecting harassment in geek culture and “consent is key” advertisements through the high traffic hallways which provided some hope that the public outcries were heard.  Panelists took up the task to be as aware and representative as possible.  Jay Whittaker approached women of color to document their experience with the con, Kiki Furia recited the harassment hotline at her panels, and Mark Middlemas brought concerning behaviors to the immediate attention of FanX panelists –they came with a clear message: we are looking out for our own.

If #MeToo were a person, it would be the black-clad thieves in the night who perpetuate a continuous cycle of harm and cause only heartbreak and trauma, robbing us of the things we hold close.  However, Krypton isn’t real enough to run to and like Superman, Metropolis is all we’ve got.

Returning to the question, “What about #MeToo?”  proves too much at stake to be silenced.  While I don’t have all the answers, I do know that I did not attend FanX for the Luthers.  I saw many moments of heroics in the few interactions I had with my fellow panelists; from Jay Whittaker to Kiki Furia-

I am here for the Super-Men.

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