Sunday, June 30, 2013

FRUSTRATIONS OF A SUPERHERO FAN IN THE OZARKS

Before I begin this post, I want to point you in the direction of two great post on other retro blogs. Plaid Stallions has a podcast about being a young superhero fan in the 70s. Also, Retrospace has a great post about The Incredible Hulk TV series of the late 70s/early 80s.

The Plaid Stallions podcast brought back some memories for me, both good and bad. One point they make is, for must of the early to mid 70s, live-action and animated superheroes in movies and TV was few and far between. Today, we have two or three superhero movies released each summer, but until the late 70s you didn't get any superhero movies. Even after the success of Superman the Movie and the Incredible Hulk TV show, there wasn't very much produced in that vain.

There was older stuff that you read about in an article in Starlog, TV Guide or some other magazine, but there wasn't home video and you were at the mercy of local TV or the networks. This was also at a time where cable systems stopped at the city limits.

I was (and still am) a hard core superhero fan, which has made me a pariah here in the Ozarks. From the time I was about six or seven, adults told me that "superheroes are not real." Other kids (also about six or seven) would tell me "superheroes are for babies," they told me they were dating, which explains why they married early and now are bitter adults post that "kids-today-are-stupid" crap on Facebook.

In many areas of the country, children came home from school to watch reruns of Batman, The Adventures of Superman, Tarzan, or possibly, the Japanese superhero TV show, Ultraman. We had none of that here in the Ozarks. The closest TV market for Batman in this area was Joplin (Okay, I realize some syndication contracts at that time were written so there were non-compete clauses - so maybe Joplin conflicted with Springfield).

If we got a superhero TV show or cartoon on local TV, it was for a brief time. When I was in the second grade, KYTV began running The Lone Ranger series everyday at 4 p.m. Not sure how long they ran it, but I watched it every afternoon.      


At some point, while I was in fourth grade, KOLR began showing the 60s Spider-Man cartoons, but his too was brief.




The only superhero that was on Springfield TV on a very regular basis was Underdog, which was a on-again-off-again afternoon staple on KOLR for many years. Occasionally, Young Sampson would turn up during the summer.

Also, channel 27 (Then known as KMTC) would air The Mighty Hercules at 6 a.m on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

While I mentioned The Lone Ranger (Calling him a superhero might be debatable), I skipped some of the sci-fi shows like Star Trek, Six Million Dollar Man and Buck Rogers, since I wanted to focus on the concept of the superhero ideal not fitting into the Ozarks' mentality.

Some would say, "Why complain about this? You saw them at some point. Get over it!" I wouldn't be as upset if there had been more variety in the mix, but you must understand that M*A*S*H has played on local TV in Springfield since it entered syndication in 1979 and Little House On the Prairie was shown several years in this market from the time it entered syndication. I should also note that these shows were still in production and airing on network television when they turned up in reruns on Springfield TV stations.  

One of the common things I heard growing up and even after I got involved in the media was that "older people don't like that stuff." Does everything in Springfield and the Ozarks have to be approved by old people? I assume old people like infomercials and those bad shows where a white judge yells at a young African-American guy about being "irresponsible." I'm sure in the future we can look forward to reruns of Duck Dynasty.

After growing up and working among people in the Springfield and Ozarks, I realized why so many in this area frown on superheroes. The superhero believes in helping the weak and oppressed for free. Consider the Lone Ranger's creed, which features the passages:
"That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world." 
"That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number."
Neither of these would be uttered by any of my classmates from Lebanon High School or any Springfield businessman. In a Lone Ranger episode entitled "The Law Lady," the Lone Ranger tells Tonto that Wyoming recently passed a law granting women the right to vote. Tonto says that he thinks that is a good idea. "It is a good idea, Tonto. Someday every woman in the Untied States will have that right," the Lone Ranger states. Of course, some local talk radio show host of the past said that only wealthy male land owners should be allowed to vote. I'm going to side with the Lone Ranger on this subject. I was shocked to see on You Tube some comments under some of the Lone Ranger episodes that people think the Lone Ranger killed and even lynched "troublemakers." If you go back to the origin story, the Lone Ranger tells Tonto he will not kill anyone. In several episodes, the Lone Ranger and Tonto stop lynchings, because everyone deserves a fair trial. I think these people commenting on You Tube (Mainly bigots comment on You Tube) are thinking of another group of masked riders...the Klu Klux Klan.

I guess Ozarkers would accept superheroes if they were more like business people and talk radio host. If someone was to create a superhero, who charged an exorbinant fee for his services, only helped white, wealthy, Republican heterosexuals and frequently lectured young people, while dressed in bib overalls, a John Deer cap and a Confederate flag for a cape, then Ozarkers would support the idea of a superhero.

I feel that my love of superheroes has made me the person I am today. I also have never been arrested or had a brush with the law of any kind. I believe in equality, fairness and helping others. Of course, that is why I'm considered the SUPER-VILLAIN of the Ozarks!!! mwu-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! 


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