- "I... can't..."
(Green Lantern, 1970, #76)
"We would dramatize [contemporary social] issues. We would not resolve them. We were not in the polemic business. I was smart enough to know enormously complex problems couldn’t be dissected within the limitations of a 25-page comic book and humble enough to know that I didn’t have solutions anyway. Still, I cherished the notion that the stories might be socially useful: I could hope they might awaken youngsters, eight- or nine-year-olds, to the world’s dilemmas and these children, given such an early start, might be able to find solutions in their maturity. My generation, and my father’s, had grown up ignorant; my son’s didn’t have to. Maybe I could help, a little." Denny O'Neil"The reality of the situation as America entered the decade of the 1960s and the messages contained in comics differed markedly. Bob Dylan pointed out that ‘‘The Times They [were] A’Changing.’’ Why so this change? The cultural hegemony that had dominated America began to erode. People’s ideas on the concept of reality underwent a profound change. Youth in particular neither internalized nor supported norms that had, for decades, enabled the dominant class to impose its value system on society. More and more, out-groups and minorities believed that a ruling elite of white, middle-aged males controlled American society. (...)
O’Neil, Adams, and editor Julius Schwartz teamed up to revitalize Green Lantern (Goulart 157). The new Green Lantern co-stars in a comic book in which social issues are dramatized. (...)
The Green Lantern character is the classic example of how it is possible for people to ‘‘ignore the social and political realities that have separated blacks from whites . . . the upholders of the established order from the poor and powerless, precisely because they would not, or could not, look below the surface and distinguish between form and substance’’ (Sherman 160). O’Neil condemns individuals who are guided by a ‘‘set of beliefs and/or aims (including interests, preferences, desires, etc.) that functions to promote and secure privileges for certain individuals or groups over other individuals or groups’’ (Hogan 28). (...)
The elderly black tenant’s remarks force Green Lantern to think about the ugly faces of racism, poverty, and oppression in American society. He responds to the black man, saying, ‘‘I can’t’’ (6). Green Lantern searches his own soul. Back in his hotel room, he recounts the vow he made: ‘‘No evil shall escape my sight.’’ He sees evil all around him disguised in familiar everyday persons and places. Self-liberation occurs, but he is unable to shed his liberalism."
- Moore, J. T. (2003). The Education of Green Lantern: Culture and Ideology. The Journal of American Culture, 26(2), 263-278. (pdf)
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