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Politics without sex: my relationship with JFK
Politics without sex: my relationship with JFK
At some point in the near future, I want to do a post on what my (non)political views are, and I need to do this one first, because it kind of sets the table for the rest of my history....
I was born in 1949, but I have no memories of anything political before 1956. And then what I remember is a broadcast of one of the party's nominating conventions. Incredibly boring...they never stopped talking and no one ever said anything....
I remember that Eisenhower was president. About the only thing I knew about Eisenhower was that he liked to play golf...
I've been a comic book reader for as long as I can remember being able to read. Looney Tunes at first, then Superman and other super hero comics. That was one of the good things about going to the doctor's office, or the dentist, or the barber shop... they always had old comics to read...
One of the things I remember about the Superman comics from the 50s is that whenever an appearance by the president of the United States was needed, it was done one of two ways: 1) a completely fictional person, or 2) someone who was hidden in the shadows, as only referred to as Mr. President.
In any number of ways, that latter seems to represent my adolescent view of the presidency --
someone in the shadows, only referred to anonymously...
Then JFK was elected, and everything changed.
Now, the 1960 election was traumatic for me to begin with, since Kennedy was Catholic, and I was raised in a Christian school, and the fact that Kennedy was Catholic became an issue in the campaign. It started me to wondering why the Protestants were more right than the Catholics, or why Christians were more right than Islam, or Hindu, or anyone else. I'd also been big on Greco-Latin mythology and Norse mythology and I could recognize the patterns of Chritianity to those now obsolete religions--a way of explaining the universe, using our own experienc as context. I ended up thinking that there was no way we could know anything, and that it all depended on faith. And I had no faith....
But I digress....
Anyway, Kennedy was elected, and the effect on Superman comics was immediate. First of all, Kennedy had a physical fitness program for the youth of America that he wanted communicated, and one of the outlets he used to communicate that program was comic books. So there were one page ads of Kennedy talking to Superman and pushing his program. The president, when he appeared in stories lines (which seemed to happen more often in those days, suddenly) was Kennedy himself. He appeared so often that he became almost a minor supporting character in the series. So much so that, when Superman got an episode of This is Your Life (a 1960's tv show, hosted by Ralph Edwards, where various celebrities had their entire lives put on display, including many reunions with people they knew, and sometimes hadn't seen for years) dedicated to him in an issue of Action Comics, and he had to figure out a way for Clark Kent to appear (everyone who knew his secret was already on the show, and something about all of the electronics in the tv studio made his robots unusable) he ended up turning to JFK, using super-make-up and ventriloquism to keep his secret identity. At the end of the story, when the indentity of the mystery CK is revealed, the answer came naturally, because JFK, as I said, had become one of the supporting characters on the show. The line of dialogue that Superman expresses in the final panel, as he flys away, is a classic example of the difference between then and now. He said "If you can't trust the president of the United States, then who can you trust?"
The irony about this issue of Action Comics was the release date--Action Comics always came out on the last Tuesday of the month. This issue hit the stands on November 26, 1963, four days after the assassination.
I could also mention the First Family record albums... I got a CD a couple of years ago of a compilation of both albums, and they still strike me as very funny today, but I'm not sure that the humor would cross over to anyone who didn't know the personalities of the people involved. Here was humor that was satirical, but not nasty. There was fun at the expense of personal foibles, but none of the bitterness that has become so common today.
I am convinced that between the assassination of Kennedy, and the exposure of the Watergate scandal ten years later, our confidence in our government was irrevocably destroyed...
(One last sidebar to this, in the brilliant animated feature The Iron Giant which I otherwise can't recommend highly enough, there is one anachronism-- an agent who represents all of the distrust we now have in our government, as most clearly shown in X-Files. Iron Giant is set in the 50's and this kind of character wouldn't have existed then....)
6/3/2006 1:52 pm
So do you think that we the people are worse off for the mistrust or wiser for it?|
just a squirrel trying to get a nut