Let’s Hate Spider-Man

Spider-Man is one of the good guys. Despite the fact that he’s constantly saving human lives and performing good deeds, he gets a hard time from the media courtesy of J. Jonah Jameson. I’m not sure any other superhero gets attacked by the public so much. Spidey isn’t a mutant, and unlike The Hulk (who is also not shown in the best light by the media), he doesn’t do anything to deserve it. He’s not a menace. He doesn’t destroy city streets or go on berserker rages, smashing everything in sight. He tries to do his best. To fulfill his responsibilities. Jameson makes it hard for him to walk down the street, let alone be applauded for his heroic acts.

In issue after issue of the Daily Bugle, Jameson rants about how Spider-Man is evil. He spins each rescue and each prevented crime into making Spidey look bad. I don’t think he believes it. He’s jealous, and if he turns out to be right about Spider-Man, the whole city will owe him a debt. Also? It comes down to dollars. The presence of the masked vigilante on the front page of the paper translates to increased sales. Jameson could put him on the cover with a positive story instead, but he likes the sensationalism. He likes standing out because his opinion is dissenting.

He uses Spider-Man’s victories and losses for his own gain. People buy more papers, and the money lines his pockets. It’s hard to say how many people believe Jameson’s negative claims. Think about how many people believe tabloid stories in real life. The number of believers seems to be a minority until Spidey does something that’s not clearly right or wrong. Jameson had a field day when it appeared that Spider-Man was stealing money from a bank. He jumped on the chance and used the act as proof that he was right all along. Of course, it ended up that the hero was actually removing a bomb from the bank and saving people. Again.

Jameson is nothing if not persistent though and even after putting his foot in his mouth about that situation, he was tearing apart Spidey in the next issue of the paper anyways.

It made me stop and think for a a few moments (not nearly as much attention as such a topic requires) about who we listen to in the media. How do our influencers affect our actions and beliefs? We all have people who we consider to be experts about certain subjects. If Jameson were on Klout, he’d probably have several K+ points for Spider-Man. However, talking about him a lot doesn’t make him right.

He presents a skewed opinion and so does most media. Fox News leans towards the right, and NPR might lean a little towards the left. The truth is in between. But we watch and listen to whoever is broadcasting news that most closely matches with what we believe. Well, the majority of us do.

Balance is important though. I think we’re often too lazy – myself included – to look at the other sides of any given argument. If you lived in the same town as Spider-Man and didn’t like his style, his attitude, or even his costume, you’d be more likely to take everything Jameson says to heart. If you’re not open minded, it’s easy to believe lies about Spider-Man. We hear what we want to hear. The people who create the news know that. Jameson knows that. There are people who believe him.

You know, when I started reading comics I never imagined taking lessons from them. I figured I’d just be entertained. That was dumb. Because week after week, issue after issue, I keep discovering takeaways that make me think. Jameson’s constant barrage of lies about Spider-Man has made me consider where I get my news and whether it’s balanced. I want to make sure I’m not putting blind faith into anyone giving me updates about important topics. Less important ones as well, to some degree. You should do the same. Look around you. Make sure you’re not listening to anyone like J. Jonah Jameson. There are a lot of folks like him out there.


3 Responses to Let’s Hate Spider-Man

  1. jlawson70 June 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    There is an episode in the second season of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes where this is well-discussed. Especially the conversations Captain America has with Spidey about old J.J.Jameson. For a bonus, J.K. Simmons is brought in to voice Jameson.

  2. wesley June 27, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    What I always found odd is how easily the public (and I’m not sure if this was just New Yorkers in the Marvel universe) was manipulated by Jameson in the face of the good things Spidey has done. You’d think that with the evidence of the people he’d saved, or the bad guys he busted, Spider-Man would get a little more benefit from the people, especially after Jonah’s conspiracy theories were proven untrue. JJ is kinda the Rush Limbaugh of Marvel in that there’s no doubt where he stands regarding Spider-Man.

  3. aboynamedart June 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    There’s a couple of other factors to consider when looking at the JJJ/Spidey rivalry:

    a) The “average person” in Marvel canon is typically depicted as being somewhat intolerant of superheroes aside from Captain America and the pre-Bendis Avengers, with an added layer of prejudice toward mutants. This was referenced in the DC vs. Marvel crossover awhile back, when Quicksilver noticed, quite jealously, that DC-Earth actually had a museum honoring The Flash, while he’s spent most of his adult life being hated and misunderstood (on top of being a cocky jackass on his own, but still).
    b) One thing the post-OMD Spidey books have done is play with the concept that the Bugle isn’t necessarily the city’s paper of record, as it would’ve been during Jonah’s heyday, even if it is in somewhat broad terms. You’re right in pointing out, though, that we haven’t seen a media figure emerge as a counterpoint or equal to Jonah’s (again, look at DC – the Daily Planet’s relative progressivism is contrasted with figures like Jack Ryder and G. Gordon Godfried, which is in itself no small indictment of TV news.) But depictions of journalism in the medium are, to say the least, a mixed bag.

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