Exposition: Les Sionistes ont même inventé Superman (OutAmericaning the Americans: Looking back on Superman’s Jewish creators)

Superman solves WWIIhttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/8062f-superman001-02.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/0/40/1672487-super3.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/modern-myths.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/baby.jpghttp://unleashthefanboy.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Superman-baby-sm.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/11f1a-babymoses-300.jpghttp://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/mom-saves-baby-moses.jpg?w=300&h=195https://i2.wp.com/www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/superman1.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/lookandlearn-preview/A/A005/A005679.jpghttp://gfishoutofwater.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/moses-parting-red-sea.jpg?w=420&h=169https://i0.wp.com/i.huffpost.com/gen/203154/thumbs/s-MOSES-large.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/whenfallsthecoliseum.com/wp-content/uploads/4JesusBaby.jpghttp://www.familychristmasonline.com/stories_bible/bible_images/innocents_leon_cogniet.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/english.ahram.org.eg/Media/News/2012/1/5/2012-634613991194261336-426.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/truthbook.com/images/site_images/Adolph_Menzel_The_twelve_year_old_Jesus_in_the_temple_700.jpghttps://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/bd224-jesus-peter-walk-on-water.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/sothl.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Jesus-Cleansing-the-Temple-610x352.jpgKindertransport (Arrival of Jewish refugee children, London, Feb. 1939) superman-warbondsSupermancerealadsSupermanCrucifiedSeinfeldSupermanAdComment Superman gagnerait la guerre, dessiné spécialement pour Look (Look, le 27 février 1940)
Le roi d’Égypte parla aussi aux sages-femmes des Hébreux (…) Il leur dit: Quand vous accoucherez les femmes des Hébreux (…), si c’est un garçon, faites-le mourir; si c’est une fille, laissez-la vivre. Un homme de la maison de Lévi avait pris pour femme une fille de Lévi. Cette femme devint enceinte et enfanta un fils. Elle vit qu’il était beau, et elle le cacha pendant trois mois. Ne pouvant plus le cacher, elle prit une caisse de jonc, qu’elle enduisit de bitume et de poix; elle y mit l’enfant, et le déposa parmi les roseaux, sur le bord du fleuve. (…) La fille de Pharaon descendit au fleuve pour se baigner, et ses compagnes se promenèrent le long du fleuve. Elle aperçut la caisse au milieu des roseaux, et elle envoya sa servante pour la prendre. Elle l’ouvrit, et vit l’enfant: c’était un petit garçon qui pleurait. Elle en eut pitié, et elle dit: C’est un enfant des Hébreux! (…) Quand il eut grandi, elle l’amena à la fille de Pharaon, et il fut pour elle comme un fils. Elle lui donna le nom de Moïse, car, dit-elle, je l’ai retiré des eaux. Exode (1: 15 – 2: 1-10)
Jerry Siegel, un garçon intellectuellement et physiquement circoncis qui a ses sièges sociaux à New York, est l’inventeur d’une figure colorée dotée d’un physique impressionnant, d’un corps puissant et d’un maillot de bain rouge qui possède la capacité de voler à travers l’éther. L’inventif Israélite a baptisé ce type sympathique au corps surdéveloppé et à l’esprit sous-développé « Superman. » Il a clamé haut et fort le sens de la justice de ce Superman, parfait modèle pour la jeunesse américaine. Comme on peut le voir, il n’y a rien que les Sadducéens ne feront pour gagner de l’argent! (…) Une image finale triomphante montre Superman, le conquérant de la mort, s’invitant au siège des moulins à paroles de la Ligue des Nations à Genève. Bien que les règles de l’établissement interdisent probablement aux personnes vêtues de maillots de bain de participer à leurs discussions, Superman les ignore tout comme les autres lois de la physique, de la logique, et de la vie en général. Il apporte avec lui le méchant ennemi allemand ainsi que la Russie Soviétique. Certes, il vaudrait probablement mieux ignorer ces élucubrations de Jerry Israel Siegel, mais il y a une entourloupe. Les audacieux exploits de Superman sont ceux d’un doryphore. Il travaille dans l’obscurité, de manière incompréhensible. Il crie « Force ! Courage ! Justice! » aux désirs nobles des enfants américains. Au lieu de profiter de l’occasion pour encourager des vertus vraiment utiles, il sème la haine, le soupçon, le mal, la paresse, et la criminalité dans leurs jeunes coeurs (..) Jerry Siegellack pue. Malheur à la jeunesse américaine, qui doit vivre dans une atmosphère si empoisonnée et ne remarque même pas le poison qu’elle avale quotidiennement. Das Schwarze Korps (hebdomadaire des SS, le 25 avril, 1940)
C’est ainsi qu’une innocente souris peut cacher, dans son ombre, un grand fauve hitlérien. (…) L’esthétique de Brick Bradford est celle du music hall, femmes nues ou peu s’en faut, hommes non moins déshabillés, défilés de girls empanachées, baisers et étreintes partout, c’est le plus bas et le plus direct appel au sexe. Qu’on n’oublie pas que cette publication est lue par des enfants de huit à seize ans et qu’une telle littérature de style Folies-Bergères est de nature à compromettre leur formation et leur équilibre sexuel. Georges Sadoul (1938?)
The story would begin with you as a child on far-off planet Krypton. Like the others of that world, you had super-powers. The child’s scientist-father was mocked and denounced by the Science Council. They did not believe his claim that Krypton would soon explode from internal stresses. Convinced that his prediction was valid, the boy’s father had been constructing a model rocket ship. As the planet began to perish, the baby’s parents knew its end was close. There was not space enough for three people in the small model craft. They put the baby into it. The mother chose to remain on the doomed planet with the man she loved, and die with him. Tearfully, hoping that their baby boy would survive, they launched the craft toward the planet Earth. Shortly, Krypton exploded and its millions of inhabitants were destroyed. Jerry Siegel
Superman #1 was published in the summer of 1939. Across the Atlantic, in Germany, Adolph Hitler was exploiting his nation’s economic and social ills by scapegoating Jews. Living in a country that had stripped them of their citizenship yet perversely obstructed their exit, German Jews resorted to desperate measures. Just as the baby Superman was sent away from Krypton to avoid the mass destruction of his people, many Jewish children were sent on the Kindertransports to seek safety with families in England. (…) Superman #1 begins with a brief synopsis of the hero’s escape from Krypton, which draws heavily on Jewish sources. Superman’s journey closely reflects the story of Moses. Like the people of Krypton who faced total annihilation, the Israelites of biblical Egypt faced the murder of their male offspring. To ensure her son’s survival, Jochebed places Moses in a reed basket and sets him afloat on the Nile. Her desperate decision is clearly echoed by Superman’s father, Jor-El, who launches the little rocket ship containing his son into outer space. Moses and Superman are eventually discovered and raised in foreign cultures. Baby Moses is found by Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, and raised in the royal palace. Superman is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent in a Midwestern cornfield and given the name Clark. From the onset, both Batya and the Kents realize that these foundling boys are extraordinary. Superman leads a double life as the stuttering, spectacle-wearing reporter whose true identity no one suspects. In the same way, for his own safety, Moses kept his Israelite roots hidden for a time. Superman’s original name on Krypton also reveals Biblical underpinnings. Superman is named Kal-El and his father Jor-El. The suffix « El » is one of the ancient names for God, used throughout the Bible. It is also found in the names of great prophets like Samuel and and Daniel and angels such as Michael and Gavriel. We may never know whether Siegel and Shuster were aware of these precise Hebrew translations; nevertheless, the name could not be more apt. While the invincible Superman may have stood the test of time, the lives of his creators were not as triumphant. From the beginning, Siegel and Shuster were so busy they had to hire assistants, but while DC Comics was making millions, Superman’s creators weren’t sharing the wealth. The two men were paid a salary, but their initial payment back in 1938 had included all rights. They had sold their percentage of a goldmine for $130 and were eventually fired from their own creation. Simcha Weinstein
The founders and inventors of this « quintessential America » were almost without exception, immigrant and first-generation Jews. Within a few years of each other, Carl Laemmele built Universal; Adolf Zukor and Jesse Lasky, Paramount; Louis B. Mayer and the Schenks, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; and Harry Cohn, Columbia. Together with the Warner Brothers, William Fox, and Samuel Goldwyn, these Moguls, whose lives and times are richly documented in the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, created a constellation as brilliant as any the firmament could offer. (…) Yiddish-speaking immigrants or their sons, born in grinding poverty in shtetlekh or ghettoes, to pedigree-poor families, headed more often than not by ne’er do-well fathers. The Moguls, the men who invented the majesty and mystery of Hollywood, were a rough-hewn bunch of ambitious men determined to thrust themselves into the epicenter of American life. (…) They began arriving in America during the 1880s, penniless boys drifting restlessly from job to job. Cutting their teeth on the ragged, half-world of fashion and retail, they became masters in gauging market swings, acquiring a special feel for detecting public taste. They finally struck it rich with the Nickelodeon, among the first to realize that people who were willing to stand in an arcade for a penny to see a movie, would pay a nickel to sit, as opposed to a quarter for live entertainment. 1903 was the turning point, the year that Carl Laemmle, Adolf Zukor, William Fox, and the Warner brothers came upon this paying invention. Within the next two decades they transformed a practically non-existent industry into one of the largest in America As immigrants themselves, the moguls in the making picked up on the dreams and aspirations of other immigrants and the working class, two largely overlapping groups, who would comprise a large portion of the early movie-going audience. (…) The Moguls wanted desperately to be regarded as Americans and not as Jews. In a slew of anti-Nazi films Hollywood produced in the thirties and forties, nary a word is mentioned of anti-Semitism abroad. As for anti-Semitism at home, barely a frame was devoted to the subject until the making of « Gentlemen’s Agreement, » produced by one of the few gentile producers in the industry, Darryl Zanuck of Twentieth Century Fox. The birth pangs of Israel elicited little interest, and « Exodus » made its way to the silver screen only when the Jewish state was a foregone conclusion, a fixed reality in the minds of the movie-going public. Neither scholars nor gentlemen nor very good Jews, the Hollywood Moguls, nevertheless, sounded a fundamental chord of American life. They had their finger on the pulse of Main Street as well as the main chance. Connoisseurs of mass entertainment, they reinvented a nation in the image of their dreams and gave it its most enduring cultural legacy. Kenneth Libo and Michael Skakun
Superman’s creator, Jerry Siegel, acknowledges in an unpublished memoir that he was strongly influenced by anti-Semitism he saw and felt, and that Samson was a role model for Superman. Jerry also says he wrote about the world he grew up in: a Cleveland neighborhood that was 70% Jewish … It was a place and time where weaklings — especially Jewish ones, who were more likely to get sand kicked in their faces by the bully down the block if not Adolf Hitler — dreamed that someday the world would see them for the superheroes they really were. (…)  The alien superbaby was not just a Jew, but also a very special one. Like Moses. Much as the baby prophet was floated in a reed basket by a mother desperate to spare him from an Egyptian Pharaoh’s death warrant, so moments before Kal-El’s planet blew up, his doomed parents tucked him into a spaceship that rocketed him to the safety of Earth. Both babies were rescued by non-Jews and raised in foreign cultures — Moses by Pharaoh’s daughter, Kal-El by Kansas farmers named Kent — and all the adoptive parents quickly learned how exceptional their foundlings were. The narratives of Krypton’s birth and death borrow the language of Genesis. Kal-El’s escape to Earth is the story of Exodus. (…) Clark Kent was Superman trying to assimilate. Superman was the real thing — as muscle-bound as the Polish-Jewish strongman Siegmund Breitbart and as indestructible as The Golem — and an inspiration to every Jewish schlump who knew there was a super being inside him. (…) Superman’s lingering heartsickness at leaving Krypton and living as an alien on Earth was classic survivor’s guilt. (…)If most of his admirers did not recognize Superman’s Jewish origins, the Third Reich did. A 1940 article in Das Schwarze Korps, the newspaper of the SS, called Siegel “Siegellack,” the “intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York.” Superman was a “pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind.” Creator and creation were stealthily working together, the Nazis concluded, to sow “hate, suspicion, evil, laziness and criminality” in the hearts of American youth. (…) Superman had strong cultural ties to the faith of his founders. He started life as the consummate liberal, championing causes from disarmament to the welfare state. He was the ultimate foreigner, escaping to America from his intergalactic shtetl and shedding his Jewish name for “Clark Kent.” Clark also had something in common with his boyish creators, Siegel and his artist sidekick, Joe Shuster: All were classic nebbishes. Clark and Superman lived life the way most newly arrived Jews did, torn between their Old and New World identities and their mild exteriors and rock-solid cores. That split personality was the only way Superman could survive, yet it gave him perpetual angst. You can’t get more Jewish than that. (…) A last rule of thumb: When a name ends in “man,” the bearer is Jewish, a superhero or in this case both. Larry Tye

Peut-on imaginer symbole plus américain que Superman?

Et pourtant qui se souvient qu’il fut, avec les autres superhéros qu’il inspira (les Batman, Captain America ou Quatre Fantastiques) la création d’un groupe d’immigrés juifs d’Europe centrale de l’Amérique des années 30?

D’où l’intérêt de l’excellente exposition du Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme (« De Superman au Chat du Rabbin », à Paris jusqu’au 27 janvier puis à Amsterdam ensuite) …

Qui, un peu à la manière du célèbre ouvrage de l’historien du cinéma Neal Gabler (« An Empire Of Their Own: How The Jews Invented Hollywood », 1988, traduit en français en 1985 sous le titre « Le Royaume de leurs rêves, la saga des Juifs qui ont fondé Hollywood »), rappelle le paradoxe de ces immigrés apparemment si éloignés de la culture dominante WASP qui, à partir d’un « divertissement de foire », finirent par incarner aux yeux du monde le rêve américain, voire, pour certains, « le vecteur principal de l’impérialisme culturel américain ».

Mais aussi le contresens du titre de la critique qu’en fait Le Monde (voir ci-dessous) qui y voit un héros juif alors qu’on a affaire à une deuxième génération d’immigrés qui cherchaient précisément à s’intégrer socialement et professionnellement.

Ainsi, certains (comme Jack Kirby ou Bob Kane) n’hésiteront pas à changer leur nom de famille. Et, malgré une arrivée sur terre assez proche de l’histoire de Moïse voire de Noé en cette époque où devant la montée du nazisme les Juifs commençaient à envoyer leurs enfants à l’étranger (seul rescapé envoyé sur la planète Terre par ses parents avant la destruction  – qu’ils avaient annoncée, de leur planète), l’extraterrestre aux super-pouvoirs Superman n’a rien de juif – mis à part peut-être la nature clivée de l’éternel immigré – ayant reçu de ses parents adoptifs une éducation typiquement américaine et donc protestante et défendant comme les autres les valeurs universelles du Bien et de la Justice.

D’où le parcours passionnant, bien présenté par l’exposition, de ces générations d’immigrés qui, des « cartoons » humoristiques des journaux yiddish et anglophones des années 1890-1930 aux superhéros déjà mentionnés à partir des années 40, puis à la contestation politique des années 1950 (MAD, X-Men) et à la culture underground des années 70, et enfin à la « redécouverte » de la Shoah (« Master Race ») et de leurs racines juives avec la consécration des « graphic novels » (« Maus », prix Pulitzer 1992), en vinrent à faire, à partir de leur exclusion même des carrières plus rémunératrices de la publicité et de l’édition et d’un genre mineur et fustigé (d’où aussi leur longue lutte pour la récupération de leurs droits sur leurs oeuvres), un véritable phénomène de société, inspirant au passage toute une génération d’auteurs européens, souvent juifs eux aussi.

Même si on peut regretter le peu de place accordé à leurs homologues non-juifs (eg. la « double identité avec, en miroir, un alter ego faible et sympathique » empruntée au « Zorro » de John Cullen Murphy ou l’évidence que le « Tarzan » de Burroughs était déjà lui aussi à sa manière un superhéros), à la fois pour mieux situer leur apport et éviter peut-être de nourrir les fantasmes antisémites du « tous des juifs ! ».

De même qu’on aurait aimé en savoir plus sur la réception en France de ces œuvres, notamment du côté de leurs détracteurs comme les membres de la fameuse « Commission de surveillance », dénonçant avec le critique de cinéma Sadoul et pamphlétaire anti-BD communiste Georges Sadoul (en faveur de leurs propres versions éducatives « Coeurs vaillants » catholique ou « Vaillant » communiste et non sans une forte dose d’anti-américanisme, même si les « illustrés » avaient depuis toujours été dénoncés pour promotion de l’illétrisme) ces « histoires à héros déculottés et à héroïnes dépoitraillées », et qui aboutit à la fameuse « Loi du 16 juillet 1949 Sur les publications destinées à la jeunesse » (et l’interdiction du héros « microcéphale » Tarzan, voire la suppression des planches des armes ou silhouettes féminines et la quasi-disparition des versions féminines des superhéros telles que les Supergirl ou Batgirl), mais qui eut son pendant un peu plus tard aux Etats-Unis mêmes avec les attaques du psychiatre Fredric Wertham (« Seduction of the Innocent », 1954) et la création par la profession elle-même du « Comics Code »

EXPOSITION
Superman, un héros juif
Samuel Blumenfeld et Yves-Marie Labé
Le Monde
25.10.07

Une exposition montre le rôle déterminant des auteurs juifs dans la bande dessinée américaine

Personne ne pourra plus l’ignorer après avoir visité l’exposition que le Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme, à Paris, consacre à la bande dessinée : Superman est juif. Ne pas le savoir ne change rien au plaisir pris à la lecture des aventures du super-héros. Mais en prendre connaissance permet de mieux saisir comment, et pourquoi, la minorité juive aux Etats-Unis a utilisé la bande dessinée pour, dans une première phase, raconter sa propre histoire, puis modifier, de manière aussi inattendue qu’imprévisible, la culture populaire de son pays d’accueil.

Conçue de manière chronologique, l’exposition permet de saisir facilement ce phénomène. Les premiers dessins datent du début du XXe siècle, quand industrialisation et immigration étaient à l’origine des grands mouvements de populations. De 1910 à 1921, les immigrés arrivés à Ellis Island, et parmi eux une forte population de juifs d’Europe centrale, racontent dans la presse leurs premiers pas en Amérique, leur vie quotidienne et le choc des cultures dans les quartiers new yorkais du Lower East Side, du Bronx ou de Brooklyn. La presse écrite, alors média de masse, publie des comic strips (bandes dessinées en quelques cases). Les quotidiens en yiddish Die Varhayt ou Der Forverts, dont les tirages sont énormes, publient les cartoons de Samuel Zagat ou de Zuni Maud.

En exposant aussi des dessins de Milt Gross, de Rube Goldberg et d’Harry Hershfield ( Abie the Agent ou Homeless Hector), l’exposition montre que aux Etats-Unis, dans la période qui sépare la Grande Dépression de la guerre froide, l’industrie de la bande dessinée devient en grande partie juive, et dépasse de loin le simple cadre de la presse yiddish, pour toucher l’imaginaire populaire.

Les illustrateurs et scénaristes juifs privilégient l’industrie du « comic book », conscients que les portes d’accès de la publicité et de l’édition leur sont souvent fermées. Ce qui a implications esthétiques indéniables, théorisées par le dessinateur Will Eisner. Celui-ci voit dans l’apparition du super-héros, à partir du succès de Superman, en 1938, l’expression d’un particularisme juif. « Le golem, une créature d’argile façonnée par un rabbin pour protéger les juifs de Pr ague, selon une légende juive du XVIe siècle, est le précurseur de la mythologie du super-héros. Les juifs, persécutés depuis des siècles en Europe, avaient besoin d’un héros capable de les protéger des forces obscures. Siegel et Shuster, les créa teurs de Superman, l’ont inventé. »

De fait, presque tous les créateurs de super-héros sont juifs, originaires d’Europe centrale : Bob Kane (Batman) ; Will Eisner (Le Spirit) ; Jack Kirby (Les Quatre Fantastiques, Hulk, les X-Men) ; Joe Simon (Captain America) et Stan Lee (Spiderman).

ROMANS GRAPHIQUES

Logiquement, Superman croise le fer avec les nazis, suivi plus tard par Captain America et Les Quatre Fantastiques. Ce qui apparaît, dans un premier temps, comme un désir de voir les Etats-Unis s’investir dans le second conflit mondial et, plus tard, comme la réparation fantasmatique d’une catastrophe – la destruction des juifs d’Europe – qu’aucune armée alliée n’a pu éviter.

Quand « l’homme d’acier » détruit le mur de l’Atlantique et la ligne Siegfried bien avant le jour J, le ministre nazi de la propagande, Joseph Goebbels, s’écrie lors d’une réunion : « Superman est juif ! » Ce qui était une insulte doit être pris aujourd’hui pour une évidence.

Le parcours de l’exposition fait aussi la part des évolutions de la BD et de ses « avatars mémoriels », selon l’expression de Laurence Sigal, directrice du Musée, qui donnent différentes visions du passé juif.

Bien après la célèbre couverture de la BD de 1944, La bête est morte ! d’Edmond-François Calvo – dont l’original est présent dans l’exposition -, on retrouve ces traces de la mémoire et notamment de la Shoah dans le graphic novel. Ce terme forgé par Will Eisner en 1978 pour désigner son livre Un pacte avec Dieu désigne une BD qui veut faire oeuvre littéraire. Le « roman graphique » est ainsi devenu un genre à part et reconnu dans la BD, attirant des auteurs en prise avec la littérature de la mémoire.

Outre Art Spiegelman et son Maus (oeuvre récompensée par un prix Pulitzer), outre encore Ben Katchor, Robert Crumb, Jules Feiffer, etc., on (re)découvre dans cette exposition de jeunes auteurs comme Bernice Eisenstein ou Miriam Katin, dont les autobiographies dessinées renvoient à des événements historiques rarement décrits par la BD (le procès d’Eichmann, par exemple).

Cette exposition intitulée « De Superman au Chat du rabbin » fait aussi des incursions dans la BD d’humour et les pastiches de Gotlib, dans les légendes et les contes traditionnels revus aujourd’hui par Joann Sfar ou dans les tribulations des anti-héros underground d’Aline Kominsky. L’exposition montre enfin la façon dont un auteur comme Hugo Pratt, passionné par la kabbale, utilise les signes hébraïques dans son oeuvre. Autant de facettes singulières du mariage entre BD contemporaine et judaïsme.

Voir aussi:

De Superman au Chat du Rabbin : passez par Eisner et Kurtsman
2goldfish
28.11.07

L’exposition De Superman Au Chat Du Rabbin au Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme à Paris retrace l’évolution parallèlle de la condition juive et de la bande dessinée – des comics américains en particulier.
Il semble qu’aux débuts du comic strip et jusque dans les années 1970, la bande dessinée outre-atlantique n’était l’oeuvre que de Juifs New Yorkais. Ils ont peut-être formé (et déformé) les esprits de la jeunesse américaine pendant tout ce temps mais avant de vous lancer en mode « antisémite parano », il faut bien vous dire que c’était loin d’être aussi cool que de contrôler les finances internationales, simuler la Shoah ou tuer Jésus : si les Juifs contrôlaient la production de comics, c’est avant tout parce que personne n’en voulait. Comme le racontait Will Eisner à Frank Miller dans leurs entretiens, on laissait la BD aux Juifs parce que les illustrateurs goys travaillaient tous pour la pub qui payait bien mieux et qu’on préférait toujours les employer eux plutôt que des noirs.

L’expo, précedemment évoquée sur Flu, commence avec des strips : c’est dans les journaux américains qu’a été inventé la BD… Dans la version américaine des faits (parce que, bien sûr, chacun prétend avoir inventé la BD en premier). Une chose est certaine, la BD a été inventée pour les immigrants qui lisaient mal l’anglais, parmi lesquels beaucoup de Juifs, et ces premiers strips étaient pleins de stéréotypes savoureux et révoltants. La naissance de Superman, puis des autres super-héros marquent l’entrée des comics dans le monde de l’enfance. Toujours considéré comme un médium pour illettrés, le comic strip (puis le comic book) fait les frais de l’alphabétisation des masses et à quelques exceptions (le Spirit de Will Eisner en est une) s’adresse à ceux qui ne savent pas encore bien lire.

Malgré tout ce qu’on a fait de Superman comme messie ou golem de la diaspora juive américaine, le judaïsme n’est presque jamais abordé ouvertement en BD. Il faudra attendre la révolution des « underground comix » et des auteurs comme Harvey Pekar, Aline Kominsky et Art Spiegelman pour que le judaïsme sorte du placard (Robert Crumb, contrairement à ce que certains croient, n’est pas juif).
Cette crise d’adolescence débouche sur le graphic novel, qu’on dira inventé par Will Eisner en 1978.

Depuis que les comics de super-héros passaient aux mains des petits Américains de toutes origines qui avaient grandi en les lisant et qui, incroyable, « veulent » faire du super-héros, les auteurs juifs sont libres de se consacrer à des poursuites plus littéraires, à des oeuvres historiques comme Ben Katchor, théologiques comme le Chat du Rabbin de Sfar ou autobiographique comme tout le monde.

Ne vous laissez pas tromper par l’affiche : Superman et le Chat Du Rabbin ont beau être deux BD des plus ennuyeuses, l’expo est bien fournie en planches originales et la scénographie est bien pensée. La visite fournit en plus au passionné de BD un argument massue pour défendre ses petits miquets : le prochain qui me regarde de haut quand je lui explique de quelle partie du blog Livre je m’occupe, je le traite d’antisémite !

Voir également:

De Superman au Chat du Rabbin
Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme

Du 17 octobre 2007
au 27 janvier 2008

Cette exposition est la première en France à mettre en évidence le rôle important de nombreux artistes et auteurs juifs dans la bande dessinée, à travers 230 œuvres ou documents (dessins originaux, planches imprimées et archives).

Elle évoque tout d’abord la période 1890-1930, durant laquelle les artistes juifs new-yorkais issus de familles immigrées témoignent, dans leurs comic strips publiés dans les journaux yiddish et anglophones, des défis qu’ils affrontent.

Vient ensuite l’ère des super-héros, liée au processus d’intégration de la seconde génération d’immigrés. 1938 voit naître Superman. Suivent Batman en 1939, et Captain America en 1940. S’ils incarnent aussi des rêves liés à l’expérience et à la tradition juives, les premiers super-héros sont destinés à la nation américaine. Ils constituent une réponse rassurante et fantastique aux difficultés engendrées par la crise de 1929 et la montée des fascismes en Europe. Infatigables justiciers veillant à l’ordre du monde, ils défendent l’espèce humaine et les valeurs universelles du Bien et de la Justice. Ce n’est qu’après la Shoah que certains personnages seront dotés de signes spécifiquement juifs.

L’exposition consacre une large part à l’un des pionniers du comic book et du roman graphique américain, Will Eisner. Cofondateur de l’atelier de production Eisner & Iger Studio (1936), où travailleront quelques-uns des plus grands dessinateurs, il publie, dès 1940, la célèbre série du Spirit. Son premier roman graphique, A Contract with God (1978), sera suivi de A Life Force et de To the Heart of the Storm, œuvres mi-autobiographiques, mi-fictionnelles, qui nous offrent les exemples les plus construits de son travail mémoriel.

Dans les années 1950, certains artistes américains s’engagent dans la contestation politique (Harvey Kurtzman, fondateur du magazine MAD en 1952) ; d’autres, tels Bernard Krigstein et Al Feldstein, mettent en scène la confrontation silencieuse d’un rescapé des camps avec son bourreau (Master Race, 1955).

Dès 1972, Art Spiegelman entame le récit de la vie de son père, ancien déporté, qui aboutit à la publication de Maus en 1986. À sa suite, des auteurs reconstituent (Miriam Katin, Bernice Eisenstein, Martin Lemelman) ou imaginent (Joe Kubert) des destins personnels liés à la Shoah. Dans un autre registre, Ben Katchor propose une vision documentée et poétique de l’existence juive à New York, tandis que James Sturm met l’accent sur le processus et l’ambiguïté de l’intégration. À travers l’autobiographie émergent souvent des anti-héros en proie à la complexité de l’existence juive américaine (Jules Feiffer, Harvey Pekar, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Diane Noomin).
En Europe, le récit graphique s’attache davantage à l’histoire qu’à l’autobiographie.
Les auteurs mêlent éléments historiques et fiction pour évoquer des périodes peu connues de l’histoire juive. Bousculant les conventions du genre narratif sur le judaïsme, Hugo Pratt (Corto Maltese, Koïnsky) fait cohabiter ses souvenirs d’enfance avec sa passion pour la Kabbale et pour les aventuriers.

À partir des années 1990, Vittorio Giardino se penche sur le sort des juifs européens (Max Friedman, Jonas Fink). À la même époque, en Espagne, Jorge Zentner et Ruben Pellejero introduisent la figure du Golem dans le contexte de l’émigration juive en Argentine (Le Silence de Malka). En France, l’artiste Joann Sfar thématise l’histoire et la tradition juives dans Le Petit Monde du golem, Le Chat du rabbin, Pascin ou Klezmer.

Voir encore:

Superman: From Cleveland to Krypton

The Man of Steel’s Jewish roots.

Simcha Weinstein

My Jewish learning

Coming over from the old country, changing his name like that. Clark Kent, only a Jew would pick a name like that for himself.

— The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon

The Birth of Superman

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two ordinary young men who created an extraordinary hero, lived twelve blocks apart from each other in Cleveland. The pair collaborated on stories for their high school newspaper and shared a passion for science fiction and pulp comics. It was the 1930s, and comic book publishing was in its infancy. Like many young Jews with artistic aspirations, Siegel and Shuster yearned to break into this fledgling industry. Comic book publishers actively hired Jews, who were largely excluded from more « legitimate » illustration work.

The 1930s were also, arguably, the most anti-Semitic period in American history. Nazi sympathizer Fritz Kuhn of the German-American Bund led legions of rabid followers on marches through many cities, including Siegel and Shuster’s hometown. Radio superstar Father Charles E. Coughlin of the pro-fascist Christian Front was one of the nation’s most powerful men. And Ivy League colleges kept the number of Jewish students to a minimum, while country clubs and even entire neighborhoods barred Jews altogether.

So Siegel and Shuster began submitting treatments under the pseudonym Bernard J. Kenton, just to be on the safe side. Throughout the Great Depression, the two boys scraped together every penny they could just to cover postage. Shuster sketched on cheap brown wrapping paper.

From these humble beginnings, Shuster and Siegel carved out a character that embodied their adolescent frustrations, served as a mouthpiece of the oppressed, and became an American icon. Many years later, Jerry Siegel recalled the birth of Superman:

« The story would begin with you as a child on far-off planet Krypton. Like the others of that world, you had super-powers. The child’s scientist-father was mocked and denounced by the Science Council. They did not believe his claim that Krypton would soon explode from internal stresses. Convinced that his prediction was valid, the boy’s father had been constructing a model rocket ship. As the planet began to perish, the baby’s parents knew its end was close. There was not space enough for three people in the small model craft. They put the baby into it. The mother chose to remain on the doomed planet with the man she loved, and die with him. Tearfully, hoping that their baby boy would survive, they launched the craft toward the planet Earth. Shortly, Krypton exploded and its millions of inhabitants were destroyed. »

The idea of for this new superhero came to them in 1934. It would take another four years before Superman would be transformed from a feverish dream to a full-fledged hero. In 1938, Detective Comics, Inc., was looking for a character to launch its new magazine, Action Comics. They paid young Siegel and Shuster $130 for the first thirteen pages of Superman. Action Comics #1 came out in June of that year. The issue sold out, and a star was drawn.

In a brilliant stroke, Shuster and Siegel gave their superhuman hero a secret identity, that of an all-too human reporter, the meekly-mannered Clark Kent. Practically speaking, this notion of « double identity » allowed for almost endless storyline twists and thematic depth. On another level, it added considerably to the « mythology » that would eventually accrue around this fictional crime fighter. Clark’s shyness undermines his courtship of his co-worker, the gutsy Lois Lane. Siegel and Shuster later admitted that the shy Clark struggling for a date reflected their own social challenges.

Superman #1 was published in the summer of 1939. Across the Atlantic, in Germany, Adolph Hitler was exploiting his nation’s economic and social ills by scapegoating Jews. Living in a country that had stripped them of their citizenship yet perversely obstructed their exit, German Jews resorted to desperate measures. Just as the baby Superman was sent away from Krypton to avoid the mass destruction of his people, many Jewish children were sent on the Kindertransports to seek safety with families in England.

After the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, America entered World War II, and so did Superman. In Siegel and Shuster’s comic, Clark Kent tries to enlist in the Armed Forces, but he fails the routine medical examination,. Clark accidentally uses his X-ray vision to read the next room’s eye chart. Distraught, he muses, « I’ve got the most perfect body the world has ever known, and through a sad trick of fate, the army turns me down as hopeless! » This feeling of desperation and despondency was felt across the country. As news of the Nazis’ murderous Holocaust plan emerged, American Jews felt utterly powerless to help their European brethren.

Word of Superman and his ethnic undertones did not escape the enemy’s notice in real life. Josef Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, denounced Superman as a Jew. In April 1940, Das Schwarze Korps, the weekly newspaper of the Nazi S.S., attacked the comic and its Jewish writers:

« Jerry Siegel, an intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York. . . The inventive Israelite named this pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind « Superman.. »

Here were Nazis wringing their hands over a cartoon character cooked up by a couple of boys across the sea. Yet this ideologically driven rant actually touched on something vital–the importance of Shuster and Siegel’s Jewish heritage.

Superman #1 begins with a brief synopsis of the hero’s escape from Krypton, which draws heavily on Jewish sources. Superman’s journey closely reflects the story of Moses. Like the people of Krypton who faced total annihilation, the Israelites of biblical Egypt faced the murder of their male offspring. To ensure her son’s survival, Jochebed places Moses in a reed basket and sets him afloat on the Nile. Her desperate decision is clearly echoed by Superman’s father, Jor-El, who launches the little rocket ship containing his son into outer space.

Moses and Superman are eventually discovered and raised in foreign cultures. Baby Moses is found by Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, and raised in the royal palace. Superman is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent in a Midwestern cornfield and given the name Clark. From the onset, both Batya and the Kents realize that these foundling boys are extraordinary. Superman leads a double life as the stuttering, spectacle-wearing reporter whose true identity no one suspects. In the same way, for his own safety, Moses kept his Israelite roots hidden for a time.

Superman’s original name on Krypton also reveals Biblical underpinnings. Superman is named Kal-El and his father Jor-El. The suffix « El » is one of the ancient names for God, used throughout the Bible. It is also found in the names of great prophets like Samuel and and Daniel and angels such as Michael and Gavriel. We may never know whether Siegel and Shuster were aware of these precise Hebrew translations; nevertheless, the name could not be more apt.

While the invincible Superman may have stood the test of time, the lives of his creators were not as triumphant. From the beginning, Siegel and Shuster were so busy they had to hire assistants, but while DC Comics was making millions, Superman’s creators weren’t sharing the wealth. The two men were paid a salary, but their initial payment back in 1938 had included all rights. They had sold their percentage of a goldmine for $130 and were eventually fired from their own creation.

Lawsuits followed. None were successful. Siegel and Shuster tried and failed to create new characters. Their names were familiar only to comic book aficionados. Then, rumors began to circulate in the early 1970s that a big budget Superman movie was in the works. DC Comics received $3 million for the rights to film Superman. Once again, Siegel and Shuster were left out of the equation.

This time, the two men tried a new approach. They bypassed their lawyers and went straight to the media. Newspapers across the world picked up the story of Siegel and Shuster, the poor boys who’d created an American icon, made DC Comics rich–and were now penniless and forgotten. That Shuster was now going blind added to the story’s poignancy.

Legally, DC Comics owed Siegel and Shuster nothing, but bad publicity was costing the company dearly. A financial settlement was reached, and the names « Siegel and Shuster » appeared in Superman comics once more. In 2006, Superman returned to the big screen, and not a moment too soon–in today’s post 9/11 world, we need a hero more than ever.

Rabbi Simcha Weinstein is the founder of the downtown Brooklyn Jewish Student Foundation. Rabbi Simcha is a sought-after television and radio guest, and has been profiled in many publications, including the New York Post, the Jerusalem Post and the Washington Post. He is also the author of Up, Up and Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero.

Voir enfin:

All That Glitters is not Goldwyn: Early Hollywood Moguls

Dr. Kenneth Libo Ph.D and Michael Skakun

Center fot Jewish history

 Perhaps no weapon in America’s media arsenal has proven as lasting as the Hollywood movie. What began as a low-grade form of entertainment, a somewhat disreputable venture at the turn of the nineteenth century became the most powerful international tool of American cultural power. Will Hays, the president of the original Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, called the film industry « the quintessence of what we mean by ‘America’. »

 The founders and inventors of this « quintessential America » were almost without exception, immigrant and first-generation Jews. Within a few years of each other, Carl Laemmele built Universal; Adolf Zukor and Jesse Lasky, Paramount; Louis B. Mayer and the Schenks, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; and Harry Cohn, Columbia. Together with the Warner Brothers, William Fox, and Samuel Goldwyn, these Moguls, whose lives and times are richly documented in the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, created a constellation as brilliant as any the firmament could offer.

 Who were they? A remarkably similar group –Yiddish-speaking immigrants or their sons, born in grinding poverty in shtetlekh or ghettoes, to pedigree-poor families, headed more often than not by ne’er do-well fathers. The Moguls, the men who invented the majesty and mystery of Hollywood, were a rough-hewn bunch of ambitious men determined to thrust themselves into the epicenter of American life.

Like Sam Goldwyn, famous for his malapropisms, many were semi-literate in English and made vulgarity and crudeness their stock in trade. At a dinner he gave to honor Madame Chiang Kai Shek, the flippant, fast-talking Jack Warner, a frustrated stand-up comedian, turned to the evening’s guest of honor and exclaimed, « Holy cow, I forgot to pick up my laundry. » When Albert Einstein visited his studio, Warner later boasted of telling the greatest scientist since Newton, « You know, I have a theory about relatives, too—don’t hire them. » And the acerbic, oftentimes slashing Harry Cohn once said, « To hell with the critics. They are like eunuchs. They can tell you how to do it but they can’t do it themselves. »

They began arriving in America during the 1880s, penniless boys drifting restlessly from job to job. Cutting their teeth on the ragged, half-world of fashion and retail, they became masters in gauging market swings, acquiring a special feel for detecting public taste. They finally struck it rich with the Nickelodeon, among the first to realize that people who were willing to stand in an arcade for a penny to see a movie, would pay a nickel to sit, as opposed to a quarter for live entertainment. 1903 was the turning point, the year that Carl Laemmle, Adolf Zukor, William Fox, and the Warner brothers came upon this paying invention. Within the next two decades they transformed a practically non-existent industry into one of the largest in America.

As immigrants themselves, the moguls in the making picked up on the dreams and aspirations of other immigrants and the working class, two largely overlapping groups, who would comprise a large portion of the early movie-going audience. By 1910, most of the future moguls were owners of small chains of moving-picture parlors that boasted whitewashed exteriors, uniformed ushers and male vocalists. Clever tacticians with a nose for making money, they understood that real profit lay in the distribution and eventually in production of movies.

Carl Laemmle, who blithely appropriated the name Universal in 1915 from a passing truck advertising a firm called « Universal Pipe Fittings, » was among the first Jewish producers to move to Hollywood. Three years earlier Sam Goldwyn and his brother-in-law Jesse Lasky, founders in Hollywood of the Lasky Feature Picture Company, produced Cecil B. DeMille’s « The Squaw Man, » giving birth to the celluloid Wild West.

These dream peddlers were particularly adept at turning a spark of talent into a blazing star. William Fox took credit for « discovering » Tom Mix and Theda Bara, a Jewish tailor’s daughter from Cincinnati born Theodosia Goodman. Carl Laemmle did the same for Mary Pickford. Harry Cohn’s credits included Ronald Coleman, Jean Arthur, Barbara Stanwyck and Cary Grant. Louis B. Mayer, a super-patriot who appropriated the Fourth of July for his birthday, created stars as diverse as Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Sam Goldwyn (nee Gelbfisz) exploited the movie potential of Eddie Cantor, Danny Kaye, Gary Cooper and Joel McCrea, while Jack Warner turned such names as Robinson, Bogart, Raft, Garfield, Flynn, Muni and Davis into box-office gold.

The Moguls were uncomfortable with their Jewishness. When they finally gave to Jewish causes, they gave, according to Ben Hecht, as a way of doing penance for not being good Jews. And when they didn’t give, they were often nasty about it. Asked to support the cause of Jewish relief, Harry Cohn, the only mogul to be both bar-mitzvahed and posthumously baptized, said, « Relief for the Jews? How about relief from the Jews. » His other abrasions included defiantly keeping Columbia Pictures open on Yom Kippur.

The Moguls wanted desperately to be regarded as Americans and not as Jews. In a slew of anti-Nazi films Hollywood produced in the thirties and forties, nary a word is mentioned of anti-Semitism abroad. As for anti-Semitism at home, barely a frame was devoted to the subject until the making of « Gentlemen’s Agreement, » produced by one of the few gentile producers in the industry, Darryl Zanuck of Twentieth Century Fox. The birth pangs of Israel elicited little interest, and « Exodus » made its way to the silver screen only when the Jewish state was a foregone conclusion, a fixed reality in the minds of the movie-going public.

Neither scholars nor gentlemen nor very good Jews, the Hollywood Moguls, nevertheless, sounded a fundamental chord of American life. They had their finger on the pulse of Main Street as well as the main chance. Connoisseurs of mass entertainment, they reinvented a nation in the image of their dreams and gave it its most enduring cultural legacy.

COMPLEMENT:

Revealed: The real-life family murder that gave birth to Superman

Marcus Dunk

11 September 2008

The Daily Mail

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound. For more than 70 years, Superman has been the king of superheroes.

Whether fighting injustice, defeating evil-doers or saving the world in comic books, on TV or on the big screen, the Man of Steel has proved himself both indestructibly popular and unassailably virtuous.

Yet, having spent all those years fighting for truth and justice, it now seems that Superman has been keeping a deep, dark secret about his true origins (and no, it is not his secret identity as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent).

Far from being born on the pages of Action Comics back in 1938 – as is generally acknowledged to be the case – it seems that the Man of Steel actually came into being six years earlier, on the night of June 2, 1932, when an elderly Jewish immigrant from Lithuania died during a robbery at his second-hand clothing store.

Only now can the tragic story of the birth of Superman be told for the first time.

To understand its poignancy, we must go back to mid-town America – Cleveland, Ohio to be precise – and the brutal killing of immigrant Mitchell Siegel at the hands of a gang who robbed his clothes shop.

It was Siegel’s teenage son, Jerry, who, along with his friend Joe Shuster, would go on to create the character of Superman.

Faced with the brutal death of his father at the hands of a bunch of thugs, the young man’s sadness and anger inspired him to create a superhuman crimefighter who was impervious to bullets and who had himself lost his father.

‘Think about it,’ says thriller writer Brad Meltzer. ‘Your father dies in a robbery, and you invent a bulletproof man who becomes the world’s greatest hero.’

The story of that tragic night has remained unknown outside the Siegel family until now, and Jerry never once mentioned the crime in the hundreds of interviews he conducted before his death in 1996.

Perhaps he feared that people would make a link between the tragedy and the creation of Superman, and the aura of proud invincibility that surrounded the Man of Steel would be pierced.

Whatever the true reasons for the secrecy surrounding the loss of his father, there is little doubt that it had a stunningly profound effect on 17-year-old Jerry Siegel.

It was just after 8pm, as Mitchell Siegel was closing up his clothing store, that three men entered the shop.

Siegel, a hardworking 60-year-old who had emigrated from Lithuania a number of years previously, and who also worked as a sign-writer to make ends meet, asked if he could help the men.

One of them asked to see a suit, and when Mitchell handed it over, the man began to walk out without paying.

What happened next is unclear, as the police report is incomplete. Even so, a struggle ensued and either Mitchell was shot in the chest and killed, or collapsed from the shock and suffered a fatal heart attack.

The effect of Mitchell’s death on his wife and six children was severe, but Jerry, who was the youngest and still at school, was devastated.

Obsessed with comic books and science fiction magazines, Jerry was a geeky, unprepossessing teenager who was both unpopular and awkward.

After the death of his father, he poured himself into the writing and creation of science fiction stories and fantastic characters, and in 1933, he and his friend Joe Shuster first began to talk about a new sort of comic book hero.

After a series of false starts, they finally came up with an invincible crime-fighting superbeing who came dressed in a very distinctive outfit.

‘We said: « Let’s create a kind of costume and let’s give him a big S on his chest, and a cape, make him as colourful as we can, and as distinctive as we can, » ‘ said Siegel.

In the oldest surviving unpublished artwork, Superman is described as ‘the most astounding fiction character of all time’, and is seen flying to the rescue of a man being held-up at gunpoint by an armed robber.

The link with Siegel’s father seems painfully clear.

For the next five years, Siegel and Shuster shopped Superman around to countless comic book companies and newspapers – but with little success.

Having decided to focus on other characters, they were just about to give up on Superman altogether when National Allied Publishing bought the character for $130 and made him the cover star of Action Comics No.1 (a near-mint condition copy of which is now worth more than £750,000).

For this meagre sum, Siegel and Shuster signed over the rights of their creation ‘forever’ – a move that they would both spend lifetimes regretting.

Superman rapidly grew in popularity, and when he wasn’t combating criminals and injustice in America, he could be seen fighting a new menace: the Nazis.

In the years before America entered the war, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels was outraged by Superman’s battles with the ‘master race’ (and their popularity with the American public) that he used to scream in meetings ‘Superman is Jewish!’

Goebbels even went so far as to place a propaganda piece in a German newspaper that accused Jerry Siegel of being ‘intellectually and physically circumcised. . . a beetle’.

Through the Forties and Fifties, Superman quickly became an American icon and influenced a whole range of successful superheroes, including Wonder Woman and Captain America.

Created by Bob Kane, Batman appeared for the first time in Detective Comics a year after Superman and it was a hit, too.

Although it is unclear how well Bob Kane knew Jerry Siegel, Batman’s back-story also bears an uncanny resemblance to the tragic events of Siegel’s life: the fictional character who transforms into him, Bruce Wayne, decides to put on his bat suit only after his parents are killed in a robbery.

At the top of the superhero pile, however, was Superman. Apart from his starring role in the comic books, he could also be found as the star of his own radio serial, in cartoons and in movies, as toys, on cereal packets and even lunchboxes.

Yet, neither Siegel nor Shuster received a penny of the millions being made from their creation.

The pair went to court on a number of occasions over the years to try to recover their creation for themselves, and although they won small settlements, they seemed unable to win back the rights to Superman.

Although Siegel continued to write for a number of comics as a writer-for-hire, by the Seventies he was living in near-penury and working as a mail-clerk earning $7,000 a year.

After hearing that Warner Brothers had paid $3million for the rights to make Superman the Movie with Christopher Reeve in the lead role in 1978, the pair decided to try once more in court.

This time they were successful, and DC Comics finally agreed to pay the pair $20,000 a year each for life.

They were also given a credit on all future publications and movies.

For Jerry Siegel, it was a happy ending to what had started as a tragic, but very simple tale.

‘We did not get Superman from our greatest legends, but because a boy lost his father,’ Brad Meltzer said.

‘Superman came not out of our strength but out of our vulnerability.’

Voir encore:

10 Reasons Superman Is Really Jewish

Sort Of Semitic Superhero Celebrates 75th Birthday

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, and It’s Also Super Jewish: The three legs of the Superman myth — truth, justice and the American way — come straight out of the Mishnah

Larry Tye

June 12, 2013

Who knew Superman was Jewish?

Well, some of us did, but a lot more didn’t.

While Warner Bros. is releasing the new Superman film, “Man of Steel,” and the superhero himself is celebrating his 75th birthday, it seemed a good time to ask the author of “Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero” to reflect on the many Jewish aspects of the red-and-blue-costume-wearing, Clark-Kent-pretending, kryptonite-avoiding, Lex-Luthor-battling crusader for truth, justice and the American way.

Here are the top 10 reasons for thinking the Man of Steel is an Israelite:

1) Superman’s creator, Jerry Siegel, acknowledges in an unpublished memoir that he was strongly influenced by anti-Semitism he saw and felt, and that Samson was a role model for Superman. Jerry also says he wrote about the world he grew up in: a Cleveland neighborhood that was 70% Jewish, where theaters and newspapers were in Yiddish as well as in English, and there were two dozen Orthodox synagogues to choose from but only one option, Weinberger’s, to buy your favorite pulp fiction. It was a place and time where weaklings — especially Jewish ones, who were more likely to get sand kicked in their faces by the bully down the block if not Adolf Hitler — dreamed that someday the world would see them for the superheroes they really were.

2) If only we’d been paying attention, we’d have seen Siegel dropping hints of his hero’s ethnicity when Superman dropped down from a faraway planet. On Krypton, Superman went by the name Kal-El as in Isra-el and the prophets Samu-el and Dani-el. It means God. Kal is similar to the Hebrew words for “voice” and “vessel.”

3) The alien superbaby was not just a Jew, but also a very special one. Like Moses. Much as the baby prophet was floated in a reed basket by a mother desperate to spare him from an Egyptian Pharaoh’s death warrant, so moments before Kal-El’s planet blew up, his doomed parents tucked him into a spaceship that rocketed him to the safety of Earth. Both babies were rescued by non-Jews and raised in foreign cultures — Moses by Pharaoh’s daughter, Kal-El by Kansas farmers named Kent — and all the adoptive parents quickly learned how exceptional their foundlings were. The narratives of Krypton’s birth and death borrow the language of Genesis. Kal-El’s escape to Earth is the story of Exodus.

4) Clues mounted from there. “The world,” it reads, “endures on three things: justice, truth and peace.”

5) The explosion of Krypton conjures up images from the mystical Kabbalah where the divine vessel was shattered and Jews were called on to perform tikkun olam, repairing the vessel and the world. No one did more of that than the Man From Metropolis.

6) Clark Kent was Superman trying to assimilate. Superman was the real thing — as muscle-bound as the Polish-Jewish strongman Siegmund Breitbart and as indestructible as The Golem — and an inspiration to every Jewish schlump who knew there was a super being inside him. Even kryptonite radiated with symbolism: It showed the influence Clark’s homeland still had over its Last Son, threatening to upend his life in the Diaspora.

7) Superman’s lingering heartsickness at leaving Krypton and living as an alien on Earth was classic survivor’s guilt.

8) If most of his admirers did not recognize Superman’s Jewish origins, the Third Reich did. A 1940 article in Das Schwarze Korps, the newspaper of the SS, called Siegel “Siegellack,” the “intellectually and physically circumcised chap who has his headquarters in New York.” Superman was a “pleasant guy with an overdeveloped body and underdeveloped mind.” Creator and creation were stealthily working together, the Nazis concluded, to sow “hate, suspicion, evil, laziness and criminality” in the hearts of American youth.

9) Superman had strong cultural ties to the faith of his founders. He started life as the consummate liberal, championing causes from disarmament to the welfare state. He was the ultimate foreigner, escaping to America from his intergalactic shtetl and shedding his Jewish name for “Clark Kent.” Clark also had something in common with his boyish creators, Siegel and his artist sidekick, Joe Shuster: All were classic nebbishes. Clark and Superman lived life the way most newly arrived Jews did, torn between their Old and New World identities and their mild exteriors and rock-solid cores. That split personality was the only way Superman could survive, yet it gave him perpetual angst. You can’t get more Jewish than that.

10) A last rule of thumb: When a name ends in “man,” the bearer is Jewish, a superhero or in this case both.

Larry Tye is the author of six books, including one on the Jewish Diaspora.

7 commentaires pour Exposition: Les Sionistes ont même inventé Superman (OutAmericaning the Americans: Looking back on Superman’s Jewish creators)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    Voir aussi:

    According to an Al-Manar TV report, titled « Jews, Movies, Hollywoodism, and the American Dream » and broadcast on February 10, 2014, Hollywood was a Jewish invention, the goals of which were « to take over the greatest superpower in the world, to control all aspects of its daily life, and to harness it in the service of Jewish goals worldwide. »

    Reporter: « [The American Jews] felt rejected by real American society. Therefore, they tried to change society’s opinion of them by inventing cinematic characters that would serve as role models. That’s when it all began. Everybody wanted to be like Superman, the hero from outer space, who could not fit in society as Superman, so he invented a character that was better suited for American society – the feeble, bespectacled Clark Kent. »

    Reporter: « Incidentally, Superman was invented by the Jew, Joe Schuster. »

    Reporter: « Hollywood is a Jewish invention that changed the way Americans view America, and created dreams, rather than reality. They managed to make the Americans live the dream, divorced from reality. Undoubtedly, the goal was to take over the greatest superpower in the world, to control all aspects of its daily life, and to harness it in the service of Jewish goals worldwide. Whenever someone challenges this, Superman is ready to deal with him. »

    Farroukh Majidi, university professor and international photographer: « What is most dangerous is if you believe their culture. You should focus on that – not about a movie about a Jewish person who was the best, who was a savior, or a hero, or whatever. This is not going to touch us. What is touching us, what is ruining us, ruining our culture, is the penetration of their culture through mass media, through their movies, through this television. This is what we have to be aware of. »

    […]

    Reporter: « The Jews consider [Carl] Laemmle to have saved hundreds of people from the so-called ‘Holocaust.’ ‘Schindler’s List’ is perhaps one move that implies this. This film was produced and distributed by Universal Studios.

    « Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Studios, renounced his German identity for the sake of his Jewishness. He made money and used it for the Jewish enterprise. He worked to keep Hollywood in Jewish hands only. This influence continues to this day. »

    Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV: Jews Invented Superman In The Service Of Global Jewish Goals
    MEMRI
    February 20, 2014

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  2. […] Thanksgiving, le panier à trois points, l’Amérique, Superman, le soft power, le génocide […]

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  3. jcdurbant dit :

    WHAT IF SUPERHEROES ACTUALLY EXISTED ? (Behind its over-the-top use and misuse of messianic and Christic imagery, new Superman movie takes on the serious business of examining the real-world consequences of a universe ruled by superheroes – or by an all-powerful but not all-loving God)

    Be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

    Jesus (Matthew 5: 45)

    See, what we call God depends upon our tribe, Clark Joe, ’cause God is tribal; God takes sides! No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from daddy’s fist and abominations. I figured out way back if God is all-powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He is all good, then He cannot be all-powerful. And neither can you be.

    Lex Luthor

    In a democracy, good is a conversation, not a unilateral decision.

    Senator Finch

    “Batman v. Superman” may lack the social commentary of “The Dark Knight” trilogy or bold iconoclasm of “V for Vendetta,” but it does have an ideology – namely, its distrust of power. To Batman and many residents of both Metropolis and Gotham, Superman is a self-appointed overlord whose complete unaccountability makes him an existential threat to humanity, regardless of his claims that he only wants to help. Indeed, the film opens by revisiting the controversial Metropolis fight from “Man of Steel,” one that many critics noted would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, showing how the stupendous loss of life (and Superman’s callous disregard for it) motivates Batman’s hatred. Of course, in Superman’s eyes, Batman is nothing more than a vigilante, someone whose ability to operate above the law speaks not to his superior moral qualities but rather the corruption of a police department that refuses to prosecute him. And when we see Bruce Wayne branding criminals with the Bat logo, it’s hard to disagree with Superman’s assessment. Coming from a movie in which one character declares that “on this earth, every act is a political act,” it’s obvious that these political messages were included by design. Regardless of their political affiliation, director Zack Snyder and screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio have created an operatic superhero film that abhors the real-world consequences which would ensue if superheroes actually existed. In the “Batman v. Superman” paradigm, it doesn’t matter that those wielding the power think of themselves as virtuous – whether sent from above with a divine destiny or crawling the streets to protect the innocent – because “in a democracy, good is a conversation, not a unilateral decision” (to quote the movie’s idealistic United States Senator played by Holly Hunter). This isn’t to say that “Batman v. Superman” is a masterpiece of political commentary, or even that its message is always presented effectively. Aside from shots of anti-Superman protesters carrying protest signs modeled after the anti-Mexican rhetoric that contaminates our discourse today, there isn’t much of an exploration of xenophobia vis-à-vis Superman’s origin story (a missed opportunity in any ostensibly politicized Superman parable). There are similarly fleeting references to drone strikes and civil liberties violations, all dutifully ticked off as vestiges of a security state run amok before quickly forgotten. The movie does include commendably strong female characters like Lois Lane and Wonder Woman, but they receive such insufficient attention that they barely make an impact (a shortcoming more likely attributable to its cluttered narrative than outright sexism). At the same time, there is actually something very intelligent, even subversive, about a superhero film that is so brazen in challenging the political legitimacy of those who would-be superheroes. It is the central conflict that drives the narrative and keeps the audience engaged in the on-screen action, even if the flat characters make it hard to invest on a deeper level. This isn’t a movie that simply includes those elements to make itself seem more profound; without that political subtext, the film barely exists at all. While it remains to be seen whether this political message will give “Batman v. Superman” the same timelessness as other blockbuster political parables from the superhero genre (again, think “V for Vendetta” or “The Dark Knight”), I suspect it goes a long way toward explaining why many audiences are connecting with it. For better or worse, the movie uses two well-known contemporary mythologies – that of the Batman and Superman characters – to ask provocative questions about whether we can trust concentrations of great power. Critics may deride these attempts as incoherent or simplistic, but if John and Jane Q. Public are intrigued by them, then perhaps we should hesitate before dismissing them outright. After all, any movie that tries to make its audience smarter isn’t completely devoid of merit. When cultural historians look back on cinema circa 2016, they will likely marvel at our growing ambivalence toward the superhero characters who have become so popular over the past couple decades. Later this year “Batman v. Superman” will be joined by “Captain America: Civil War,” another movie in which two iconic superheroes feud over ideological differences about concentrations of power (this time Captain America and Iron Man). There is a mass catharsis at play here, a phenomenon in which the anxieties toward demagogues and potential demagogues – liberals and conservatives can fill in their own blanks here with the names of their least-favorite politicians – is being reflected back to us on the silver screen. This, politically speaking, may be the most important takeaway from “Batman v. Superman.” It may be a good movie, a bad movie, or anything in between, but it is without question an important film today, and a quintessential product of the America we inhabit.

    Matthew Rozsa

    http://www.salon.com/2016/03/29/batman_v_superman_isnt_a_flop_a_superhero_movie_that_questions_absolute_power_is_tailor_made_for_2016/

    Superman vs. Batman … accomplishes its lofty goal to approach Superman (Henry Cavill) from a more mythological discourse, with Christian symbolism coming to the forefront. Those who saw « Man of Steel » are undoubtedly familiar with these sorts of Christian references, especially given that film’s use of the Holy Trinity. That symbolism is even more overt in « Batman v Superman, » or should we call it « The Passion of Superman »? The godly hero is venerated throughout the film.

    His morality is also called into question. At one point he essentially decimates an entire village in order to rescue Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in the middle of the desert.

    But this scorn is often countered by images of his redemption, as when Superman saves a girl from a burning building and gets mobbed by a group of people all stretching out to touch him. Jesus — I mean Superman — even goes on trial in front of Congress so that the world can get a better idea of where he stands. Is he on Earth to dominate mankind? Or is he there to collaborate with humanity?

    Of course, like Christ, there are those that fear Superman, including Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). As the film opens, Snyder and company do the obligatory Bruce Wayne back story. (It is the same story we have seen 40 times by now, proving that reusing these characters eventually gets old and dull.) Likely because he heard for two years how oblivious Superman seemed in « Man of Steel » about killing millions of people during his fight with General Zod (Michael Shannon), Snyder decided to then show audiences this same destruction from a different viewpoint, using overt 9/11 references.

    While Snyder’s attempts to acknowledge the carnage in a way his previous film didn’t, the rewrite does not in reveal how Superman feels about anything. More to the point, despite seeing the mayhem, Bruce Wayne’s alter ego Batman seems to have no sympathy for killing other characters during the various chase or action sequences he takes on.

    The promised showdown between the heroes is actually not all that consequential in the grand scheme of things. The conflict is not truly borne out of any rivalry on the side of Superman. The « god » is forced into the fight, and Batman stands around waiting for him. Affleck is solid as a forlorn Bruce Wayne, but it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.

    Then there is Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who looks to bend Superman to his will. Luthor’s discourses on the nature of man and his relationship to God are rather interesting and methodical, but the character as a whole is more of an attempt at a Joker rip-off. He appears as more of a cartoon character than a fully fleshed out human who inspires fear. There is little for Eisenberg to do here, though he undoubtedly tries his utmost to make Lex unpredictable.

    The film is undeniably at its most interesting when tackling humanity’s ability to deal with the presence of a true god, particularly in the film’s first half. Even moments when Superman and Batman recognize their common humanity have a poignant ring to them.

    « Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice » ultimately takes its mythologizing to a rather obvious extreme, leaving the audience with everything one might expect from « The Passion of Superman. » And while the ending might shoot for pathos, the audience’s realization of what is to come in subsequent franchise films not only robs the sequence of its resonance, but makes it irritating. That might be the best way to describe the film as a whole.

    From the outset, Batman V Superman ensures we see Superman as a ‘savior’ figure, the one who intervenes to rescue those in danger. There’s a moment when he comes out of the sun looking almost like the Transfiguration, while Batman’s ‘Knightmare’ scene involves brutal cults that now follow their Messiah. Perhaps the most startling scene is a throwaway one in which Clark Kent sees footage of a burning building, and the news commentator declares that he can’t believe they’re going to « let that little girl die. » The building is an inferno, about to collapse, and yet the commentator views the inevitable death as somehow chosen. Superman, naturally, chooses otherwise.

    Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is often used to bring the Messianic imagery to the forefront – he ceaselessly refers to Superman as an analogy for God. Even his hatred of Superman is rooted in that analogy. Jewish Rabbi Elie Wiesel was faced with the horrors of the Holocaust, and his theology was utterly transformed by it. Wiesel came to the belief that, in the face of Auschwitz, God must be either all-loving or all-powerful – He could not be both. Lex Luthor has come to a similar view; and, where Wiesel was comfortable with the distinction, Luthor is angry. Conflating Superman with God, his desire is to reveal either the limits of Superman’s character, or of his power.

    In the film, there’s a fascinatingly spiritual scene in which Superman has been tempted away from the path of interaction with the world. Curiously enough, this time round it is his own mother who has tried to tell him to let go – « You don’t owe the world anything, » she tells him. Superman heads off to a mountain (again, a spiritual place in the Bible), and has a spiritual encounter with his deceased father, Jonathan, that prepares him for what is to come.
    Doomsday as the devil

    Luthor uses Kryptonian technology to create Doomsday, and it’s notable that doing so requires his blood – again, a Biblical notion (Leviticus 17: 11, « For the life of a creature is in the blood »). Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously argued that man created God in his own image. Batman V Superman neatly inverts this postmodern trope, with, instead, man creating the devil in response to God’s presence. The battle between Doomsday and the DC superheroes culminates in a brutal conflict that goes so far as the boundaries of the atmosphere! Ultimately, Superman and Doomsday strike each other with fatal blows, in a scene that seems analogous to the first Biblical prophecy of what the Cross would achieve, in Genesis 3: 15: « He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. » In this first prophecy, the decisive battle between the Son of Man (a title Jesus claimed for himself) and the Devil would involve both striking powerful blows against the other. The Devil, in Genesis spoken of as a serpent, will strike Jesus on the heel – infecting him with venom, and thus taking his life. Jesus, meanwhile, will crush the Devil’s head as he dies. True to this form, Superman and Doomsday literally impale one another, both dying. Tellingly, as Lois weeps (analogous to many images of Jesus’ mother weeping over his body), the camera pans out to reveal wooden rubble in the shape of Crosses.

    It’s also no coincidence that this film was released on Good Friday, when Christians celebrate the death of Jesus!

    One more thing to note: Luthor argues throughout the film that devils come from the skies. By the end of the film, it’s pretty clear he sees the arrival of another devil – Darkseid.

    Sometimes crucifixions were a long and messy affair, and the Romans tried to hurry them up. As Jesus hung upon the Cross, the Roman soldiers moved between the three men hanging on the Crosses, and broke the legs of the two thieves – so they would hang, and asphyxiate. They believed that Jesus was already dead, though, and pierced his side with a spear. The Bible is very specific to describing a flow of « blood and water », which indicates that the spear had penetrated the lung – and it was filled, proving Jesus was truly dead. In roughly the same way, the crucial weapon in this film is a Kryptonite spear, fashioned by Batman, and ultimately used against Doomsday. As Doomsday dies, the creature’s right arm – taking on the form of a spear – pierces Superman’s chest, also killing him. It’s not a coincidence, even though the symbolism breaks apart when you look too deeply at this one.

    Is there anyone who believes Superman will stay dead? The funeral processions – complete with the famous religious tune Amazing Grace – and the mourning masses are eerily reminiscent of the Bible’s descriptions. Just as with Jesus, Superman is left in the grave – and the final scenes hint that he’s not quite dead yet… This, of course, was based off the famous Death of Superman event – and yes, Superman came back pretty quickly …

    http://www.latinpost.com/articles/118971/20160323/batman-v-superman-review-mythology-christian-themes-redeem-dawn-justice.htm

    Every other scene is a murky allusion to classical mythology or baroque religious art. But that’s categorically all they are: the film regularly defies common sense and logic in order to cue up the next cod-transfiguration or pietà. When Lois Lane (Amy Adams) hurls that kryptonite spear into the water, she does it for no apparent reason other than the fact it looks, like, totally cool – and accordingly, she and Superman are fishing it back out again five minutes later. The heavy religious symbolism of Man of Steel now looks relatively restrained: Superman himself has gone Full Christ Metaphor, and his life is an endless cycle of rescuing people (mainly Lois) and pulling expressions of pained benificence. Cavill has almost nothing to do apart from look chiseled, which makes a depressing kind of sense, given the film seems to view his character as a living statue. Batman V Superman launches into its myth-making immediately and humourlessly, setting the tone for everything that follows. Under the opening credits we get a refresher course in Bruce Wayne’s childhood trauma: yet again, we see the shooting of his parents (this time outside a cinema showing Excalibur and The Mark of Zorro) and his subsequent tumble down a bat-infested shaft. It’s staged with sadistic elegance – there’s a skin-prickling shot of the mugger’s pistol hitching up Bruce’s mother’s string of pearls – although there are only so many slow-motion aerial shots of coffins and black umbrellas a man can come up with, and much of it smacks of similar passages in Snyder’s earlier films, Sucker Punch and Watchmen. It also turns out to be the only substantial insight we get into who Bruce Wayne actually is, or what drives him, in the film’s entire two-and-a-half-hour running time. Giving Affleck’s Batman the physique of a concrete pillar makes aesthetic sense, but did he need the personality of one too? One more thing about Bruce: he loathes Superman, because of his city-razing antics at the end of Man of Steel, which toppled Wayne Tower with hundreds of employees inside it. Here, Snyder gives us a street-level recap, transparently invoking 9/11 in every shot. (Later, the film works the terrorism angle even harder: Superman’s actions prove to be the catalyst for a suicide bomb attack on US soil.) In short, Batman has grounds for vengeance. But it’s Lex Luthor who has the appetite. After hauling a clump of glowing green kryptonite from the Indian Ocean, the young technology mogul devises a ‘silver bullet’ that could bring Superman to heel. Eisenberg gives a catastrophic performance here, all itchy and spasmodic, and built on mumbled rants about Copernicus and Nietzsche …

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice/review/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/watchinggod/2016/03/theres-a-reason-why-batman-v-superman-was-released-easter-weekend/

    La bonne idée de ce nouveau film des écuries DC Comics, c’est de mettre en opposition deux conceptions de la justice, en leur donnant vie à travers l’affrontement de deux héros mythiques. (…) Superman et Batman ne sont pas des citoyens comme les autres. Ce sont tous les deux des hors-la-loi qui œuvrent pour accomplir le Bien. Néanmoins, leur rapport à la justice n’est pas le même: l’un incarne une loi supérieure, l’autre cherche à échapper à l’intransigeance des règles pour mieux faire corps avec le monde. Le personnage de Superman évoque une justice divine transcendante, ou encore supra-étatique. À plusieurs reprises, le film met en évidence le défaut de cette justice surhumaine, trop parfaite pour notre monde. Superman est un héros kantien, pour qui le devoir ne peut souffrir de compromission. Cette rigidité morale peut alors paradoxalement conduire à une vertu vicieuse, trop sûre d’elle même. On reprochait au philosophe de Königsberg sa morale de cristal, parfaite dans ses intentions mais prête à se briser au contact de la dure réalité. Il en va de même pour Superman et pour sa bonne volonté, qui vient buter sur la brutalité de ses adversaires et sur des dilemmes moraux à la résolution impossible. Le personnage de Batman incarne quant à lui une justice souple, souterraine, infra-étatique et peut-être trop humaine. Le modèle philosophique le plus proche est celui de la morale arétique du philosophe Aristote. Si les règles sont trop rigides, il faut privilégier, à la manière du maçon qui utilise comme règle le fil à plomb qui s’adapte aux contours irréguliers, une vertu plus élastique. Plutôt que d’obéir à des impératifs catégoriques, le justicier est celui qui sait s’adapter et optimiser l’agir au cas particulier. Paradoxalement, cette justice de l’ombre peut aller jusqu’à vouloir braver l‘interdit suprême ; le meurtre; puisque Batman veut en finir avec Superman. (…) De la même façon, le film pose dès le départ, à travers les discours d’une sénatrice, le problème critique du recours au super-héros. Ce dernier déresponsabilise l’homme, court-circuite le débat démocratique et menace par ses super-pouvoirs toute possibilité d’un contre-pouvoir. Les « Watchmen », adaptation plus subtile de l’oeuvre de Alan Moore par le même Zack Snyder posait déjà la question : « Who watches the Watchmen ? »

    http://leplus.nouvelobs.com/contribution/1502064-batman-vs-superman-c-est-aristote-contre-kant-en-plus-desesperant.html

    https://jcdurbant.wordpress.com/2008/01/04/exposition-comment-les-juifs-ont-invente-superman-outamericaning-the-americans-looking-back-on-supermans-jewish-creators/

    https://jcdurbant.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/catastrophes-le-deluge-ferait-de-dieu-le-plus-grand-tueur-de-masse-de-lhistoire-the-flood-would-make-god-the-biggest-mass-murderer-in-history/

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