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Savior figures in U.S. media and literature Lone Rangers: Michael Fitzgerald April 9, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Savior figures in U.S. media and literature Lone Rangers: Michael Fitzgerald April 9, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Savior figures in U.S. media and literature Lone Rangers: Michael Fitzgerald April 9, 2008

2 History of the Lone Ranger Commissioned by WXYZ (Detroit) owner, George Trendle, in 1932. Written by Fran Striker of Buffalo, N.Y. Trendle and Striker also created The Green Hornet, another vigilante crime-fighter series. Lone Ranger character was loosely based on Zorro, but a similar character had been introduced in 1932 on WEBR (Buffalo), where Striker was GM, announcer, and writer. LR became the first hit series for Mutual Broadcasting System (WXYZ, Detroit; WOR, N.Y/N.J; WGN, Chicago; and WLW, Cincinnati) in 1934.; ran on radio until 1954. Appeared in a series of dime novels from 1936 to 1956. Made into a series of B movies by Republic Pictures in 1938. Serialized in newspaper comic strips dist. by King Features Syndicate (Hearst), 1938-1971. Became a TV series starring Clayton Moore in 1949, which ran on ABC-TV until 1957, appeared in reruns for several years. Moore appeared in movie versions in 1956 and 1958. Appeared in Dell Comics in 1948-1962; also in Gold Key Comics, 1964-1977. Appeared in TV cartoon from 1966 to 1968 on CBS-TV, also in 1980s. Remade as a movie in 1981. Appeared as video game, 1990. WB network tried to revive the series, 2003. Appeared as an action figure from Shocker Toys, 2006. New movie being developed as of 2006; still on hold.

3 Other savior figures in literature and media

4 What do these figures have in common? They are almost always strangers. They possess extraordinary or superhuman powers. They are better, smarter, more capable and more trustworthy than ordinary mortals. They are often exposed to temptation but never succumb to it. They are never married or have families to attend to. They do not operate according to man-made laws but answer only to a higher law or code of honor. They materialize to rescue us from evil-doers, because our established leaders and institutions are either ineffectual, corrupt, or both. They are nearly always white. Ninety percent or more are male.

5 Superhero scale VirginianLone RangerSupermanGreen HornetBatmanSpidermanEqualizerPaladin Wonder Woman Year introduced190219331938193619391962198519571941 TypeHired gunVigilante DetectiveVigilante Hired gunVigilante Unattached111111 Refuses money1111111 Independently wealthy1111 Has secret identity/alter ego111111 Wears mask1111 Wears special costume11111 Has sidekick/assistant/servant11111 Disappears/leaves town after deed111111 Has super powers111 Employs violence111111111 Employs lethal violence111 Loner/outsider (no friends or family)11?11 Symbolic death & resurrection111 White11111111 Male11111111 Not affiliated with government111111111 Motivated by revenge11 Motivated by justice11111.50.51 Has strict code of honor0.511111111 Self-appointed1111110.51 Cool under fire11111111 Impatient with bureaucracy1111111 Fights crime11111111 Young (under 40)1111111 Extraordinarily modest/selfless11111 TOTAL7.52220 21151215 SCORE30.00%88.00%80.00% 84.00%60.04%48.00%60.00%

6 Superhero pantheon

7 Greek pantheon

8 Archetype: avenging angel

9 Archetypes: Classical hero vs. American superhero Classical hero: Goes on a journey or quest. Exposed to temptation or distraction, usually from females. Symbolically dies and is resurrected. Gets tested in some sort of battle, and becomes competent (possible ritual of passage for young men into adulthood). SOURCE: Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton. N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972 [1949]. American superhero: Appears from nowhere Probably a god or demigod. Has supernatural abilities. Represents/carries out vengeance and retribution. Promotes pop Fascism. SOURCE: John Sheldon Lawrence & Robert Jewett. American Monomyth. Lanham, Md. University Press of America, 1988.

10 Avenging-angel figures found in The Bible: Michael the archangel, Book of Daniel (OT), Malachi, Book of Malachi (OT), Jesus in Revelation (NT). Arthurian legend (England): Lancelot, Galahad, et al. Dime novels: Robert M. Byrd, Nick of the Woods (1837), Owen Wister, The Virginian (1902), et al. Comic books: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Capt. America, Daredevil, Thor, et al. Radio: the Shadow, the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet. Television: Lone Ranger, The Virginian, Superman, Batman, Green Hornet, Wonder Woman, Buffy, Xena. Movies: John Wayne, Rambo, Steven Segall, Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Charles Bronson (Death Wish), Chuck Norris, Terminator, et al. Video games: Requiem: Avenging Angel.

11 Archetype: avenging angel Michael the Archangel, Book of Daniel (Old Testament) Avenging Angel, 2007 TV series, Hallmark Channel The Avenging Angel (later renamed The Angel, Marvel Comics character

12 You are Malachi, the Lord's avenging angel. You have been charged with kicking demonic ass, and saving humanity. Are you up to it? SOURCE: Jon Simon. Game Review: Requiem: Avenging Angel. Sharky Extreme May 19, 1999. Retrieved April 6, 2008. Archetype: avenging angel

13 Avenging angels G-rated: First issue of Action Comics, June 1938, featuring Superman.

14 Other avenging angelsnot so nice: Movie version, 1914. Movie version, 1929 feat. Gary Cooper. Movie version, 1946. TV version, 1962, feat. James Drury. The Virginian, (Owen Wister novel, 1902)

15 Other avenging angelsnot so nice: John Wayne in The Searchers, 1956.

16 Other avenging angelsnot so nice: Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey in Death Wish, et al.) 1974 1982 1985 2009?

17 Other avenging angelsnot so nice: John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone in First Blood, et al.) 1982 1985 1988 2008

18 Other avenging angelsnot so nice The Terminator (Arnold Schwartzenegger) 1984 1991 1993

19 National policy ramifications Powerful myths arent confined to literaturethey can influence individual actions and national policy…. Sometimes politicians will consciously try to exploit the mythic appeal of certain symbols. But most people use [and respond to] myths unconsciously. SOURCE: People. In His Own Words: The Iran Arms Scandal, Says a Historian, Shows How the Power of Myth Can Cloud Peoples Minds. Jan 19, 1987. Database: ProQuest E-library.

20 Political leaders as avenging-angel figures: Teddy Roosevelt We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord! Theodore Roosevelt. Address to the Republican Convention in Chicago. June 17, 1912. Quoted in Joseph Bucklin Bishop. Theodore Roosevelt and His Time, Shown in His Own Letters. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1920, 336.

21 Political leaders as avenging-angel figures: Harry Truman Referring to the dropping atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more than 200,000 civilians, Truman said, I didnt hesitate a minute, and Ive never lost a minute of sleep over it. SOURCE: Time. The World of Harry Truman. Jan. 8, 1973.

22 SOURCE: Tom Shales. Speakes Rambo Reaction. Washington Post. July 4, 1985, D-1. On microfilm.. Avenging-angel figures as political leaders: Ronald Reagan After seeing Rambo last night, I know what to do next time.... Ronald Reagan, referring to the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979.

23 Avenging-angel figures as political leaders: Arnold Schwarzenegger

24 Political leaders as avenging-angel figures: George W. Bush God told me to strike at al Qaida, and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam…. SOURCE: Aarnon Reqular. Road map is a life saver for us,' PM Abbas tells Hamas. Haaretz (Jerusalem). emNo=310788&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSu bContrassID=0&listSrc=Y. Retrieved April 6, 2008. emNo=310788&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSu bContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

25 George Bush: Elite Force Aviator action figure from KB Toys. /PID/2431939/ctid/17?_ts=y&ls=toys. Political leaders as avenging-angel figures: George W. Bush

26 Political leaders as avenging-angel figures: The Bush Warriors: Americas Battle Against Evil. Der Spiegel (Germany). August, 2002. Colin Powell as Batman Donald Rumsfeld as Conan the Barbarian George W. Bush as John Rambo Dick Cheney as the Terminator Condoleeza Rice as Xena, Warrior Princess

27 Recap: Lone Ranger can be considered a superhero, even though he has no superhuman powers. American superheroes are based on biblical avenging-angel archetype rather than the classical- hero type. There are dozens of these figures in U.S. literature and media. Sometimes U.S. leaders see themselves as such figures.

28 Closing question IF: The avenging-angel figure feels that the use of unsanctioned (i.e., illegal) violence is always justified whenever he sees fit to use it; THEN: What does the U.S. publics hunger for an unelected, self-appointed vigilante, who has unlimited power to commit violence without societal approval, indicate about our true attitudes regarding democracy?

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