Jewperman Returns

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All right, all right. Enough with the Superman is Jewish already. Time just ran “Superman’s Inner Jew,” in which the debate over whether Superman is Jewish rages on. He does seem at least a little Jewish, right? Think about it: if you pronounce “Superman” and accent the first syllable, “Superman” even sounds like a Jewish last name. (Like Glouberman. Or Superselman.)

Of course, everyone knows Superman does not practice the Hebrew faith, let alone keep Kosher or make love through a sheet. Superman doesn’t go to Temple, and he’s great at sports. His attitude towards the Middle East is vague. (Maybe he should shrink Israel and put it in the bottle next to Kandor.)

Ethnically, Superman would be a member of his biological parents’ faith. But when Krypton was about to explode, you didn’t see Jor-El praying to some stupid Red Sun deity or whatever to save his ass. He did something about it. Maybe Jor-El was a Space Atheist. A “Spathiest.” Or at least a Spagnostic. Culturally, Superman was brought up by Ma and Pa Kent as a Methodist. (Still, I hope he pulled his punches when he and the other Smallville farmboys were beating up the non-super Jewish kid in town.)

However, masters of the obvious love to spout on about how the Superman myth represents the Jewish immigrant experience. Kal-El came Moses-like from another world, and he had adopt a WASP-y secret identity to fit in. (I wonder if Lois Lane would have spent so much time trying to marry Superman if she knew her dream beau was even a metaphor for being Jewish.) And here’s a word of advice for the Man of Steel: if you want to hide your secret Jewishness, don’t pick a secret identity in THE MEDIA.

In fact, the whole Super-Jew-assimilation metaphor gets very muddy when you factor in a certain schlemiel named Clark Kent. A nervous, glasses-wearing writer? The stammering klutz who can’t get a date? I’m sure behind closed doors the kindest word Perry White had for Clark was “nebbish.” (Perry WHITE? Get it?) Other than the name, Clark Kent is hardly a WASP-y assimilation disguise. He’s more like Superman’s sterotypical Semitic Halloween costume: a six-foot four Fielding Mellish.

So, the Superman with the cape is one of the chosen, while the Superman with the glasses is a self-hating putz. Perhaps the whole mess catalyzes the inherent contradictions of the modern Jewish American identity… is what someone who’s forgotten he’s writing a semi-funny blog about hobbits would say.

Anyway, a much better question than, “is Superman Jewish,” is, “is Superman lame?” The answer, of course, is yes. Superman comics are boring. Super boring. Where’s the suspense? The guy can do anything. The real Jewish hero is Batman. With his driven work ethic, high intellect, body hair, and survivor’s guilt, just call him Bruce Wayneovitz.

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