Neutering Green Arrow: Making a Liberal hero ready for Tea Party Prime Time Television

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I was never much of a Green Arrow fan growing up, giving most of my allegiance to Batman. The idea of a guy with an arrow for-all-occasions just didn’t appeal to me; what was his quiver of arrows, after all, but another version of the utility belt?

Then, in the 1970s, GA teamed up with another character who had some pretty good SF adventures, but wasn’t all that interesting himself - Green Lantern.

Oh, not the lame brain Green Lantern movie that was perpetrated on all of us, but Hal Jordan, the guy with the ring - sort of humorless guy who made the universe a better place for all of us?

GA essentially grabs GL and says, “Hey, you with the Ring! Can’t you see that there are problems here on Earth that need solving?” GL, of course, has no idea what he is talking about, so GA sort of strong-arms him into taking a trip across America with him in a pickup truck, kind of like Route 66, only on steroids.

In that way, GL (and the few comics readers who weren’t aware of social issues facing this country) would get a good, hard dose of reality. Not all the stories were set on earth, but enough were so that the comic series earned its title as being “relevant,” in that it dealt with poverty, drug addiction (including GA’s own nephew, addicted to heroin) ) and over population.

These are the sort of story lines that would set phones ringing off the hook today, demanding a return to fantasy, and not un-American questioning of life and authority.

Some of the stories have been collected in book form, so they shouldn’t be that hard to find. They aren’t Hemingway, but comic books? In the 1970s?

Of course, comics were just following the leads of TV and movies in that decade. It was how we liked it.

I don’t think that feminism was handled all that well, despite the plethora of female heroes.

But still, imagine a comics hero with hard-core liberal values, and not afraid to use them!

This fall, CW sees the debut of The Arrow, the newest incarnation of Green Arrow. He first came to life on Smallville (different actor), but no politics allowed, folks.

According to producers, he will be battling “the wealthy and the corrupt.” Well hell, so do do the folks on Law and Order.

Well, there will be “echoes” of the one-percent and Occupy Wall Street Wall mentality about him. Echoes or that game of Telephone we used to play as kids, when you’d whisper something in someone’s ear, and marvel at how garbled it was at the other end of the line, maybe?

Then again, he occasionally doles out capital punishment to those at the scene of a crime - a far cry from the “we don’t kill folks” mantra at the DC comics which spawned him.

I’ll just hold my breath while I wait for the episode when this sort-of liberal hero deals with topics like overpopulation, poverty and racism.

Or better yet, I’ll just reread my old Green Lantern/Green Arrow collections from the 1970s. Here is a nice site where you might buy some for yourself:

http://www.collectedcomicslibrary.com/dc_comics_special_editions/gl_ga_collection.html

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The final verdict: Toby Keith - Still a jerk

So here is the situation: a lot of folks only hang out with people who believe the same things that they do. They are essentially hearing the same voices over and over again, the same choir, singing the same song - over and over again.

A lot of people are content with that. They have their core beliefs, they have their friends, they've got rhythm, who could ask for anything more?

For Seattle resident John Moe, that became more than simply a rhetorical question. Conservatize Me: How I tried to become a righty with the help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith and Beef Jerky is the story of his quest to discover if he, a lifelong liberal, could be "converted" into the ranks of conservatism within the space of 30 days - much as the movie Supersize Me tackled the subject of fast food from McDonalds.

But how to go about this monumental task? How to maximize the conservative experience, so that 30 days will provide a true smorgasbord of American conservative thought?

Well, because so much had to be crammed into 30 days, Moe set certain rules for himself - he would only discuss politics with conservatives, and would limit as much of his intellectual input as he could to conservative sources- Fox News, talk radio, and lots of music by the likes of the ever-sappy Lee Greenwood ("God Bless the USA") and the ever-insufferable Toby Keith.

No Dixie Chicks. Never, ever the Dixie Chicks.

Like many, Moe initially comes across as one of those who sees people from "the other side" in rather cliched terms. What Moe discovers, much to his chagrin, is that people who hold conservative beliefs can be reasonable and articulate, and not necessarily the bloodthirsty creatures they are so often portrayed as being.

Moe tells of his encounters with conservatives, both prominent and everyday men and women, who are rational and articulate. If he doesn't find common ground with them, at least he comes closer to understanding how they have come to believe what they do.

And then there are the walking, talking cliches, like the College Republicans, or the odd folks at the Family Research Council, who seem inordinately concerned with gay people and gay marriage.

The highlight of the book is a visit to a Toby Keith concert. Keith, as many know, is the blowhard country music artist who took offense when one of the Dixie Chicks criticized George Bush. As a result, fellow blowhards like Glenn Beck invite him on TV for "conversations" - or as much of a conversation as one can have with a lunatic like Glenn Beck.

The concert turns out to double as commercial for Ford, for which Keith is the designated tough guy spokesman. Moe learns to his surprise that several of the people at the concert, while they enjoy Keith's music, also think he is a phony, especially when it comes to his loud opinions on the war in Iraq.

In the end, Moe discovers, people are people (is that Barbra Streisand lurking around?) and that those who approach situations first with the "conservative" or "liberal" label are pretty boring, and don't have much to contribute to a conversation about anything.

Moe's work is both funny and deadly serious, and can be appreciated by readers on all sides of the political spectrum. And in the process we learn a lot about his new-found love for beef jerky.

*****

Quote of the Day

The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been kindness, beauty and truth. - Albert Einstein

sdrake@cox.net

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