Recently, a lot of local news outlets reported on the sad news that a memorial monument to Jeffrey Baldwin, a five-year old Toronto boy who was murdered by his grandparents, would be missing one major component.
The monument was to feature Jeffrey dressed as Superman, his idol. The sculpture, which was financed through an online fundraiser, was to be modeled off of a picture in which Jeffrey was dressed up as Supe for Halloween. Unfortunately, intellectual property rights proved to be the Kryptonite to this noble plan– DC Entertainment refused the request to use the Superman logo on the memorial.
Now, it’s certainly their right to decline or permit the use of their character’s logo (a character co-created by Toronto’s Joe Shuster, incidentally). But just for the sake of context and comparison, let’s take a look at some of the shit that Superman’s likeness has been authorized to be slapped on to over the years. Like…
Some kind of weird fake cheese. Okay… If only we had some tortilla chips to go with it.
Of course, too much imitation cheese spread and tortilla chips, and you might shit in your underwear.
Yes, soil your pants and you’re literally pissing and shitting all over Superman’s legendary emblem. More recently, with the Man of Steel movie, Superman was used in a number of movie cross-promotions. You’ve probably seen them, there’s one for Gillette, one for a watch company, and even, bizarrely, a promotion for the U.S. Military– who were kind of the bad guys in Man of Steel.
The point is Superman’s logo has been marketed so many times over, it has almost lost all meaning. So why not take the opportunity to imbue that logo with some sense of purpose again? To illuminate how this character allowed a moment of pure happiness to a child who was viciously robbed of his life.
I love DC, I love DC Comics– but remembering what their characters can mean to people, even people who have been mired in tragedy, is what I want to take away from a life of reading comic books. Superheroes have become our modern mythologies, not merely marketable graphics.
These characters have the power to reach beyond generations while the cheese whiz, underwear, and wristwatches will all eventually end up in a dumpster. Let’s hope that DC rethinks this decision.
EDIT: After the enormous backlash against this decision, DC has relented and will allow the use of the Superman S on the memorial.