Saturday, June 07, 2008

Me and Superman got in a fight...

In my eternal search for good running music, I picked up an album called Running Cadences of the US Armed Forces, which sounds exactly like you think it would: the sound people running in step, a guy calling out a line, and 30 guys calling it back (e.g. "fired up," "FIRED UP!" "27," "27!" "Here we go," "HERE WE GO," on the road, "ON THE ROAD." ) Listening to it yesterday I was caught by this chant:

Me and Superman got in a fight
I hit him in the head with some Kryptonite
I hit him so hard I busted his brain
And now I'm dating Lois Lane.

Looking this up on the internet revealed second verse:

Well, me and Batman, we had one too
I hit him in the head with my left shoe
Right in the temple with my left heel
And now I driving the Batmobile

Of course, in the one about Superman, there is the standard violence-sex switchover you expect from the military: one of the chants I have goes "I used to date a beauty queen, now I love my M16." The Superman one goes the other direction: the military will channel your sex drive into violence, but it will also teach you how to use violence to get sex. The image also draws on the famous Charles Atlas comic book advertisment -- used to such great effect in Flex Mentallo -- in which a skinny kid gets physically humiliated at the beach by a thug who takes his girlfriend. The military will make Superman seem like that weakling, is the sense here -- just as in the Charles Atlas thing, your goal should be to be to become your enemy. The equation of Lois Lane and the Batmobile is interesting as well, the way one seems as valuable as the other, and essentially the same kind of thing.

But what really strikes me about the Superman chant -- divorced from the Batman chant, as was when I heard it on the track -- is how the military equates its troops, to a limited extent, with both Batman and Lex Luthor, who both want to be strong enough to kill Superman. (Luthor only occasionally goes after Lane as a secondary thing, and even then, just to piss of his rival). Batman, and the Luthor of All Star Superman, reach for human perfection, and the ultimate test of this human perfection for both is the Superman takedown -- Miller's Batman literally hits Superman in the head with some Kryptonite at the end of the first issue of Dark Knight Strikes Again (though admittedly the Kryptonite is in the form of huge fuck-off gloves). Knowing the famous Superman as Immigrant metaphor (his home-world destroyed, he comes here and must adapt to our way of life in spite of the fact that he is an alien), we can see that the chant is also about killing the foreigners.

Say what you want about the military, their powers of seduction are many and varied. I paid 9.99 to have an audio recording of guys scream propaganda at me, and I have to admit, it is one of the best albums to run to that I have.

[Slightly off topic, when I bought this, I also got the Cloverfield Soundtrack -- 99 cents for the 12 minute song that runs over the closing credits (there is no other soundtrack to the film). It is written by the guy who does the soundtrack for Alias and LOST, and it is the best example of what he does -- a kind of pulpy John Williams with a sense of humor. The theme for the smoke monster on the LOST album -- which I do not actually have -- is called "Monsters are People Too" (which is actually a LOST theory -- the ghosts are the smoke monster)].


Jason said...

I loved that Cloverfield end credits song! (And the music in "Alias" too.) Thanks for the tip that it can be gotten on iTunes for a buck. I'm so on that!

Anonymous said...

pseudo-intellectual-1. One who attempts to flex intellect that does not exist within his or her own mind.

Kahlim said...

I liked some of the parralels you draw from the military cadence. I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but there is a third verse (although it's only half as long), and I would like to read your thoughts on it:

"Me and The Hulk went blow for blow,
But I like green so I let him go."