Lovefool 07.04.11 | America the (Mostly) Beautiful

Celebrate Independence Day Lovefool-style. Because after all, what is patriotism if not "love" for one’s country?




Today, we celebrate America’s birthday with hot dogs and booze and blowin’ shit up, which is a perfectly fine way to spend a day, in my opinion. Your Lovefool can be a bit of a hooligan and, to be honest, all of the things I’ve mentioned are totes relevant to my interests. But I also manage to feel the stirrings of patriotism in these cynical veins of mine today (and every time I see Michelle Obama in a fabulous outfit outshining some foreign dignitary) on the anniversary of a bunch of dudes deciding to blow off the system and raise some hell, which is totally American, even if you know the backstory. Maybe even more if you know the backstory. I kid, I kid. Sort of. Anyway, America has problems, yes, that could stand to be addressed (and addressed now) but it’s a pretty okay place to live.
So what is patriotism if it’s not love for your country? Here at Lovefool, we respect the rights we do have as Americans. America is the land where people can say what’s on their mind, be it Michael Moore or Michelle Bachman. Should they say it? Hey, that’s not my call. Do they have the right to say it? Yes. (Well, yes, unless it runs afoul of the PATRIOT Act. But I digress.) But you know what? While I love and respect America enough to hand out some fliers and register some people to vote, I wouldn’t ever wear spandex tights for it. Or maybe because I love America, I’ll keep my thighs out of both spandex and the skies? But comics are full of characters who are up in the skies, defending America and savin’ the world and stuff. They’re full of characters who embody what I think is the American spirit. So let’s take a minute to thank a few of them for it.
Of course, when I think of patriotic superheroes, War Machine is the first thing that comes to mind. I mean, yeah, Captain America has the flashy American armor and stuff, but James Rhodes was just quietly serving his country when he met Iron Man, in whichever incarnation you’re familiar with. Rhodey was a reluctant entrant into the superhero business, even, but he did what had to be done to save the day. But he did it with a quiet do-the-right-thing morality that I admire, that, for me, embodies America at its very best.
Superman tells the story of a boy from another planet, an immigrant of sorts, coming to America and doing what he can to help those around him. Previously a superhero dedicated to protecting “truth, justice and the American way,” there was quite a fuss when it was announced that Superman was going to give up his American citizenship. I think that the hysterical coverage misplaced their emphasis, though. Superman wasn’t giving up being American, he was deciding to be global. And, frankly, I can’t think of anything more American than trying to save, and serve, the entire damned world. Clark Kent came from the cornfields of Kansas but sees that he can be an instrument of global change. I’m open for discussion, but that seems like a pretty good metaphor for a new generation in America.
Spider Jerusalem, Warren Ellis’ most persistent creation, probably doesn’t seem like someone who belongs on this list. Created by an Englishman, always on drugs and periodically binging on television, this gonzo journalist isn’t much of a symbol for America. And, if he is, it’s been argued that he’s a symbol for all that could be wrong with our great country. Again, he’s on drugs all the time, has a fierce arsenal of weaponry and can rouse some rabble if he needs to. On the other hand, Spider is also a fearless crusader for The Truth who brings down a corrupt and murderous political machine that is ruining America using the power of words and, yes, occasionally, a bowel disrupter. Does he do it for America’s sake alone? Probably not. Does he do it? Yes. Does he do it with style? Absolutely.
I’ll stop there lest I get a little preachy. Of course, I tip my hat to Spidey hanging out with Barack and Captain America’s winged helmet. I salute Uncle Sam and Liberty Belle, the proper way, doing that weird thing with my hand. Wonder Woman is certainly a Friend of Sam so she gets the nod, as well. But, for me, America is a messier place than a lot of comic books are really willing to depict. All things considered, though, if nothing else, my America is a place of good intentions and we’ll just leave it at that. | Erin Jameson

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