Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills you - R.I.P. Captain America


Well, this past week, Captain America joined Charles Xavier, Superman, Optimus Prime and Robin in the "childhood heroes to die" club. I remember having to read the Transformers comic book about who survived the "fight to the death" battle of Optimus Prime vs. Megatron because I was in sixth grade at the time - and going to a movie like that - alone (since most of my friends had grown out of the Transformers/GI Joe stage and into the Bon Jovi-worshipping MTV stage of adolescence) wasn't an option. Still, when I read about Prime's death, I remember laughing it off with a few friends "good - he was a lame character anyway." Still, the death gnawed at me - it was like Prime's death gave him his own version of "indie credibility" - he was mortal - he had a belief and he paid a price for it.

Fast forward about a decade and I read that the main (not saying 'Prime' to avoid the obvious pun) reason Hasbro killed him off was to make room for a new toy line. One of my first experiences with the cold hard slap of capitalist cynicism. Then, as a limp way of appeasing fans - the creators resurrected the character. As a result, it's hard to look at any of that character's actions and sacrifices and not think "even if he dies, they'll bring him back" - just like hitting the RESET button. When he returned to the comics and TV show, I half-wished they kept him six underground since it added a tremendous depth to an otherwise cheesy "good vs. evil" storyline.

This Jesus-like resurrection of superheroes like Optimus Prime and Superman has to loom over the death of Captain America. Especially in today's world, a character like Captain America would have been almost impossible to sell. Sure, the Captain America scholars say he's just as layered and complex as Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. But just the premise - the outfit, the name of the character - it just seems like there isn't really a demand for such a character anymore. The Left and Right are clamoring to claim the departed Captain America as their own - but like any other superhero who no longer captures mainstream imaginations - they are only claiming him after he has died. Now, I just wonder what route the "owners" of the Captain America franchise are going to take: let the icon of yesteryear pass into history - or cheaply use this tactic as a way to launch a new Captain America series.

iPod mix of the day...
"I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" - Los Lobos ** (groan)
"No Complains" - Beck *** (the Information is sort of a grower)
"Utopia Parkway" - Fountains of Wayne ****
"It Coulda Been Me" - Social Distortion ***
"Extraordinary Machine" - Fiona Apple *** (leaked version)
"Sabotage" - The Beastie Boys ***** (nice bit o' nostalgia)
"E-Mac (interlude)" - Big Boi ** (not much to it)
"Thank You For Sending Me an Angel" - Talking Heads ****
"That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" - Sufjan Stevens ****
"An Ode to No One" - Smashing Pumpkins ***
"Sieve-Fisted Find" - Fugazi ****
"I Am Superman" - R.E.M. ****
"Wear You Out" - TV on the Radio ****
"Titanium Exposure" - Sonic Youth ****

"Death or Glory" - The Clash **** (so sick of this album though)
"Lost Cause" - Beck ***** (not the case with this album...)
"Leather" - Tori Amos ***** (he he...)
"Neif + Girly" - Asobi Seksu ****
"Lilah" - Morphine ***
"Charlemagne in Sweatpants" - The Hold Steady **** (close to *****)
"Gimmie Shelter" - The Rolling Stones *****
"Another One Bites the Dust" - Queen *****
"Via Chicago" - Wilco ****
"Spill the Blood" - Slayer ***
"Better Version of Me (leaked version)" - Fiona Apple *****