Posted this on a recent comics-forum about politics and superheroes:
Before one says that everything is of a political nature, I think one must say, "Is politics the fundamental root of human society, or is it a secondary manifestation of that society?"
Maybe you can guess from my phrasing my own take, but I'd say that any political system comes about in order to manage human conflicts relating to what Americans generally call "life, liberty & pursuit of happiness." I'd simplify that to "Life." So politics is about the proper governance of life. There's a nice line in GAME OF THRONES in which one noble tells another that the "smallfolk" don't really care that much about who's on the throne; they just want a good crop and freedom from disease, and whatever ruler helps them to that end is the one they like.
Now, one can believe that, in the real world, nothing is free from political associations. However, in fiction that freedom does exist, even if it's only a freedom of the imagination. One poster brought up the famous example of GREEN LANTERN #76, in which Green Lantern's countless world-saving endeavors are viewed as nugatory next to his failure to address a particular social issue.
I've certainly encountered over-ideological critics who've made the claim that saving the universe doesn't amount to any positive political act; that it amounts, incredibly, to preserving the status quo. I view this as an absurd overstatement of the function of political rectitude; the equivalent of saying, in Judeo-Christian terms, that Man really is made for the Sabbath, not the other way round.
Whether it's saving the universe or catching a serial killer, the hero's deed is meant to signify the continuance, rather than the frustration. of life as it is lived. For some readers, "political life" takes the place of actual life, and so purely most political interpretations of heroic acts come off not as genuine inquiry but as "sentence first, evidence afterwards."
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