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.