Farewell, Stan Lee

boy in white shirt and black track pants

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On this day, a large piece of my childhood became forever lost, for Stanley Martin Lieber, a man known to most as the great Stan Lee, is now dead. He was a man I never knew, a man who touched me as a child despite never meeting, a man whose words spoke of power and responsibility, and a man who fought against bias when the norm was to do otherwise.

We read his stories in print; we see his creations in theaters and on television; we wear clothes emblazoned with characters and scenes that, while drawn by others, were envisioned by him for others to illustrate. We do these things now and we shall do so for decades to come, for the universe he created–like the true reality we inhabit–is constantly expanding, changing, evolving. And yet, despite its change from that which he created and championed to that which we have today, that universe remains his creation, his vision made real, and our delight to behold.

He was not just “a” man. No, his mind, energy, and passion forged much of our current pop culture and fully transcended him from being “a” man to being that which he always proclaimed to be…

THE Man.

Rest well, Stan Lee.

-Keith V.

The above was adapted 
from a post I made on Facebook (Nov. 12, 2018).


Teaching Sexism, One Kid at a Time

Image from Pexels.com

Image from Pexels.com.

5-4-3-2-1…Thunderbirds Are Go is sexist!

I’d like to hear from other parents out there who’ve watched Thunderbirds Are Go in monitoring their kids’ TV habits. I’ve found the show to be 100% unwatchable. It is a misandrist’s dream: All the women are super-smart, super-athletic, braver than the courageous Audie Murphy (look him up here), and they all outperform, outsmart, and generally outdo the frequently hapless male characters. As for those male characters, well, read on. Continue reading

The Common Denominator

A PieceThe following is a riddle. There were three different TV and film presentations shown between 1967 and 1977 that shared one thing in common. Two of the presentations are from the iconic Batman and Star Trek series of the 1960s, while the final one formed the third entry of a disconnected three-film series from the 1970s. See if you can guess their common denominator before I reveal the answer at the end of this article.
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“Black Lightning” Keeps It Real

“Black Lightning” is the CW network’s latest superhero offering, and it’s like nothing seen before on broadcast television. Unlike other CW shows based on characters from DC Comics, the show features a predominantly black cast, and it has a grittiness and a level of sheer, brutal violence that is normally seen on the streamed productions from DC’s primary rival, Marvel Entertainment. In surpassing Marvel’s efforts, it accurately reflects many cruel realities that I am very familiar with. Continue reading

Time, Change, and an Icon

The USS Enterprise from the original

The USS Enterprise from the original “Star Trek” series.

From Andy Warhol to Flower Children, time has progressed and most of the real, tangible, and iconic elements of the 1960s are long gone. However, there were many elements of the 1960s that were purely fictitious in nature, and due to their unreality, they endure as symbols of the era. One such symbol of the 1960s is the fictional starship USS Enterprise as seen in the Star Trek television show. The radical design of the ship and its importance to the program lent an aura of power and nigh-invincibility to the vessel, one that garnered the attention of Americans from “Joe and Jane Average” to actual rocket scientists at NASA.  We are now 50 years past America’s introduction to Star Trek and the Enterprise, so the question of the ship’s relevance in popular culture arises.  In short, to the general public of today, is the name USS Enterprise still one that invokes an iconic image? Continue reading

Time and Television (Part Two of Two)

Game show winnings.

Game show winnings.

Part Two: The Impact of Game Shows and the Modern Age

In part one of this essay we explored the impossibly pure imagery television initially presented to viewers, images that reflected the mores of a bygone America. We reviewed the impact on our culture presented by the popularization of color television and how seeing real conflict and tragedy in color shocked the sensibilities of our unprepared nation, and how that shock was expressed through several cutting edge (or “bleeding edge”) television shows beginning in the early 1970s. Finally, we explored how the landscape of television was affected by cable television, and how it continued to change to the point where it was showcasing the lack of restrictions imposed on it and the lack of self-restraint that was becoming prevalent in our nation throughout the 1990s.

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Time and Television (Part One of Two)

An image of pristine America.

Part One: The Sanitized Era and the Beginnings of Reality

Television was once the conveyor of virginal imagery, the bringer of the Norman Rockwell version of America as beamed to homes from coast-to-coast by the Gods of Television on a daily basis. During these days long past there was a security in television that’s all but extinct today. Censors and sponsors combined to make TV a sterile landscape devoid of most forms of offensive behavior, sexual innuendos, and expressions of thought contrary to the perceived norms of American society. The nation and its representation on TV were both far different than they are today, and what led both to change is a tale of a country enduring tragic moments and embracing cultural change.

TV’s distant past reflects the bygone days when “men were men and women were women,” when homosexuality was ignored, and when heterosexuality was limited to platonic hugs and closed-mouth kisses. War was a bloodless display of valor and manliness according to shows such as The Rat Patrol and Combat, while the American West was a place of brave, noble men who tamed fierce savages and felled outlaws with equally bloodless gunshots as evidenced by shows such as Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Women were seen as aspirants to domestic perfection, embodied by such fictional pre-Martha Stewart domestic divas as June Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver and Margaret Anderson in Father Knows Best. As to displays or the mere mentioning of the sex act, it was avoided at all costs even if it meant depicting a boudoir as surreal as the one containing the separate beds of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy, or as unseen as Ralph and Alice Kramden’s bedroom on The Honeymooners. Such is how it was prior to January 29th, 1968–the date of the Viet Cong’s bloody Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War–as television was, to that date, used as the great sanitizer of American life. Afterwards, it was a whole new ballgame.

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