Capitalist Superheroes: out now!

I just realized it would be remiss of me to pass up the opportunity to note that my book Capitalist Superheroes has been available from online retailers as of this month, and has even been popping up here and there at bookstores. Contrary to earlier reports, the e-book version (which is even cheaper than the already quite modestly priced paper edition) does include all the pictures I’ve used, and while there was initially a problem with the digital book lacking all instances of italics in the text, this has since been fixed by the publisher.

For those lovely human beings who are kind enough to consider purchasing a copy, Amazon (US or UK) seem to be your best bets – both have had copies in stock for several weeks now, and offer the book at a decent price of around 12 or 13 dollars/pounds.

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4 Responses to Capitalist Superheroes: out now!

  1. I just read your book, congratulations on a well-researched and entertaining read. However I have some serious problems with your Zizekian conclusions.

    Quote: we can thus identify what Slavoj Žižek has described as the postmodern nonexistence of the “big Other”: on the one hand, the lack of strong patriarchal order that allows the characters to place the ongoing events in a coherent, meaningful context; on the other hand, the desire to find a way to restore the very same patriarchal order, acted out by the multitude of father figures that secretly orchestrate the events in Heroes. In both instances, these popular texts can be viewed as a symptom of the cultural dominant of neoliberal capitalism.

    I don’t see on what basis you claim that there is a general desire to ”restore the patriarchal order”.
    It might be the desire of the superhero movie industry, because that industry perpetuates the patriarchal ideology, but it is by no means clearly a reflection of some inherent ”decline of symbolic efficacy” as theorized by Zizek, or the desire of the audiences. There’s little mention in your text of alternate End-of-World narratives like for example Von Trier’s MELANCHOLIA, which envisages a world entirely devoid of fathers whereby the fathers aren’t even missed, and which even propose female jouissance as the organizing principle of a new world. This is after all much more consistent with Lacan’s original conceptions, badly filtered by Zizek, according to which the ultimate goal of psychoanalysis was not to BEMOAN the absence of the paternal function, but to go beyond the Phallic Law / desire into the realm of the drives, where the subject assumes full responsibility for (re)inventing him/herself.

    Elsewhere in the book, you contradict yourself implicitly:

    The degree to which the Batman film franchise came to be overshadowed by its corporate logo is illustrated by the opening of the third film in the series, Batman Forever (dir. Joel Schumacher, 1995). The movie begins, like all others distributed by Time Warner, with the image of the Warner Brothers logo, which subsequently morphs into the Batman logo, using computer technology that was a relative novelty at the time. This unusual moment, which was repeated in the next film in the Batman cycle, demonstrates an ostentatiously excessive degree of branding, illustrating how strongly the Batman logo had become synonymous with the corporate brand of its parent company.

    But it also shows something much more important: the METAMORPHOSIS (a technique indigenous to animation) makes it possible to ”override” the Master signifier, allowing a polysemy without much fuss. Ergo the Master signifier is no longer crucial, and necessary. Again – where is the decline of symbolic efficacy?

  2. clarification on the previous:

    The fact that the logo is able to morph seamlessly, maintaining and amplifying the consistency of the brand, is not so much reason to bemoan the disturbance of the Phallic Law which would otherwise have affixed the meaning of this brand to a single image, as it is reason to suspect that the Phallic Law itself is generated by SOMETHING ELSE – a something that apparently is able to operate in a non-dialectic, non-divisive, not-negative fashion.

  3. Many thanks for your feedback, and for your kind and generous words about Capitalist Superheroes! Your elaborate comments on Zizek are very helpful, thanks for posting them!

  4. You welcome, I think ultimately that kids in Western countries, esp. a place like Holland, have no direct experience with socialism and this is why it’s important to tell them what garbage they are being fed by the Hollywood entertainment industry. I had the same experience teaching MBO students a few years back, having serious problems explaining how and why they should not simply ”give in” to entertainment thinking that it’s innocent. It was extremely difficult to get that message across, plus you have the pressure of school administration forcing you to take the school as a market working for the entertainment market.

    But I think Marxist theory is in a dire condition because of theory superstars like Zizek, whose ‘decline of symbolic efficacy’ breeds the situation that it bemoans. The theory has created a self-contained loop of bourgeois regret and lament, with no positive or creative proposals as to how we could actually go beyond the Loss and the Absence. It’s really a bourgeois theory posing as Marxism.

    Meanwhile, both the digital technology and capitalism have for a long time been operating – with very few glitches – beyond ”the decline of symbolic efficacy” – and are laughing behind our backs right as I speak. They already know the ”secret” that you don’t need the Phallic Law to do branding!

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