I posed this on the JLA-JSA thread, and am giving it its own post here at the Captain's suggestion:

"I can see a reading of the "Luma Lynai" scene from another direction.  Remember, Supergirl is the one who's messing about in Superman's love life a little before he utters the fateful words.  Maybe the writer-- Binder, I think-- was implying that Supergirl was "shipping" (as they call it now) her cousin through an intermediary.  If so, then Superman's words might be a way of diplomatically letting her down.

Not that there aren't lots of other weird incest-y motifs in the Superman Family.  Can we talk about the wedding of Jimmy and Lois?  Well, maybe on another thread."

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The voyeurism is strong in Superman, but then it's strong in any fiction--especially fiction that's visually based. It seems to me that this paranoia/fascination about being watched and watching others was really strong in the early '60s. As a little kid I picked up on this and I was horribly paranoid--I always worried that everything I was doing was being watched by someone.

Grant Morrison makes a deal about Mort Weisinger being in psycho-analysis and all these ideas came out of that. But Julie Schwartz doesn't seem to give much credence to Mort's supposed psychological problems with Superman [I'm sure his actual comment about Mort is in MAN OF TWO WORLDS, but I can't find it at the moment]. Schwartz knew Weisinger better than anybody, so maybe it's a just a lot of hot air.

But if you were a kid, and you spent most of your day sitting in front of the boob tube, another part of the day sitting in a classroom watching your teacher, and a bit of every day sitting at the kitchen table being watched by your parents--the whole obsession with watching and being watched would make sense. I wonder how that translates now, when everyone is using their smart devices.

Regarding the psycho-sexual feelings between Superman and Supergirl, I can't believe no one has mentioned. ACTION COMICS 260 (January '60) *SPOILERS*

This is a story about Superman's affair with a superwoman named Mighty Maid (she appears to be full grown), but at the end of the story we find out that it's really Supergirl posing as Mighty Maid. Supergirl even tearfully begs her cousin at the end to let her come out of the closet and reveal herself to the world, but Superman tells her no, that he needs her to stay hidden as his secret weapon.

If I wanted to make a case against Superman exploiting his young cousin, this story would support my case. This time it isn't Supergirl scheming--it's Superman using Kara to fool Lois. And as part of their act, Superman and "Mighty Maid" are really being passionate and kissing full on the mouth in front of everybody.

What underlines the contrast in their ages even more is that the Supergirl back-up story--advertised on the cover--has Kara being turned into a baby.

I'm definitely a little more creeped out by this Mighty Maid story. But I think you have to take the story in isolation and not extrapolate to more meaning beyond the story itself. It was a bit of a sausage factory pumping out Superman stories in those days--so I don't really believe they thought about the deeper implications on some comics. Some adventures maybe--where they really are hammering home a message--but they were probably desperate for any new ideas. And there were certain obvious ideas that they would keep trying out with different variations. So Superman pulling a hoax on Lois was one of the most common--and using Supergirl was just another variation that they tried out.

It's not like they thought these stories would stay in publication for the next 50 years. The stories were just meant to be read in ten minutes and then forgotten.

Good examples of voyeurism in the Superman unvierse. Yes, in a realistic context it would seem like a shared psychological abberation. The extrinsic reason was probably that it was a somewhat visual way of furnishing an information dump.

Dave Elyea said:

Is it just me, or does a pattern seem to emerge from the various "odd" decisions that the various Kryptonians & Kandorians make for what we assume must have been for purely story purposes?  If you take enough of them together, the people of Krypton seem to have been/be voyeuristic (for lack of a better word) by nature.  Look at Jor-El, who spent endless hours observing Earth people, once all his flashback appearances are considered together--there has long been the question of why Krypton could have been so scientifically advanced, but had no space program to speak of--sure, we know that Superman's origin hinges on that fact, but still.  Clearly, Krypton was aware that there were plenty of inhabited planets out there, yet they had zero interest in visiting them, even tho they really seemed to enjoy watching them.  Then there's Kandor, which is on the one hand, literally an exhibit, being observed first by Brainiac and then by Superman and his friends, but on the other hand, the major activity of the Kandorians seems to be watching Superman & Company in return.  As noted elsewhere, Superboy spent way too much of his time watching his own future adventures as Superman.  Supergirl seemed to be perfectly happy in that perfectly dreary orphanage, secretly watching other kids, and occasionally using her super-sight to spy on Superman & his pals.  How about the Phantom Zone criminals, who were unable to do anything but watch--we've always assumed that was part of their punishment, but what if the act of keeping their fellow Kryptonians from their Rao-given right to just watch was considered too horrible a punishment to impose on anyone?  Even in their civilian careers, Clark Kent, as a reporter, is at least in theory, all about other people's stories (and one assumes that the vast majority of Clark's assignments never actually turn into "jobs for Superman!"), and Supergirl worked as a TV news camerawoman (even more voyeuristic than a print reporter), and then as a school guidance counselor, which again deals with other people's problems.  Heck, even Superman's endless stream of cruel practical jokes to teach his friends lessons, and the endless parade of dangerous alien "gifts" for Jimmy could just be Kal-El wanting something different to "watch".

Jimm said: "I'm definitely a little more creeped out by this Mighty Maid story. But I think you have to take the story in isolation and not extrapolate to more meaning beyond the story itself. It was a bit of a sausage factory pumping out Superman stories in those days--so I don't really believe they thought about the deeper implications on some comics. Some adventures maybe--where they really are hammering home a message--but they were probably desperate for any new ideas. And there were certain obvious ideas that they would keep trying out with different variations. So Superman pulling a hoax on Lois was one of the most common--and using Supergirl was just another variation that they tried out. It's not like they thought these stories would stay in publication for the next 50 years. The stories were just meant to be read in ten minutes and then forgotten."

 

Definitely, the stories were almost always concatenations of devices that DC editors and writers believed to be effective in selling stories. Heck, I don't remember the sequence, but the Luma Lynai story was one of three in which busybodies tried to hook up Superman with a marital partner. I think the other two busybodies were Krypto and maybe Jimmy Olsen.

That said, one can make the argument that on occasion just because the writers were turning out stories fast and furious, they frequently disconnected the internal editor and came up with oddball voyages into the subconscious. Often "conscious intent" is not the sole measure of a deeper meaning.

Lori Lemaris once tried to get Superman to propose to Lois, using a lot of tricks including her telepathy!

Thank God the Legion or the Justice League left Superman alone!

Jimmm Kelly said:

Grant Morrison makes a deal about Mort Weisinger being in psycho-analysis and all these ideas came out of that. But Julie Schwartz doesn't seem to give much credence to Mort's supposed psychological problems with Superman [I'm sure his actual comment about Mort is in MAN OF TWO WORLDS, but I can't find it at the moment]. Schwartz knew Weisinger better than anybody, so maybe it's a just a lot of hot air.

I was looking in Man of Two Worlds for a reference to the above. Not too easy as there is no index in the book. If Schwartz ever reacted to a comment like this about Weisinger, I don't think it's in his book. As far as I can tell, Morrison's speculation was in his book Supergods, which was published in 2011. Man of Two Worlds was published in 2000 and Schwartz died in 2004.

Supergirl's actions in ACTION COMICS 289 (June '62) are a kind of reversal of her earlier actions in SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE 14 (January '60) where Supergirl attempts to manipulate Superman into proposing marriage to Lois and tries to make it seem like Batman is a suitor for Lois so he'll get jealous. Supergirl wants Superman and Lois to get married so they will adopt her (which shows that in this story Kara thinks of her cousin like a father not a lover).

Richard Willis said:

Jimmm Kelly said:

Grant Morrison makes a deal about Mort Weisinger being in psycho-analysis and all these ideas came out of that. But Julie Schwartz doesn't seem to give much credence to Mort's supposed psychological problems with Superman [I'm sure his actual comment about Mort is in MAN OF TWO WORLDS, but I can't find it at the moment]. Schwartz knew Weisinger better than anybody, so maybe it's a just a lot of hot air.

I was looking in Man of Two Worlds for a reference to the above. Not too easy as there is no index in the book. If Schwartz ever reacted to a comment like this about Weisinger, I don't think it's in his book. As far as I can tell, Morrison's speculation was in his book Supergods, which was published in 2011. Man of Two Worlds was published in 2000 and Schwartz died in 2004.

 

Sorry for the confusion, I didn't mean to suggest that Schwartz was reacting to something Morrison said. As I recall it, Julie was commenting on something that Weisinger had written. I believe it was an article that Weisinger wrote for READER'S DIGEST--probably in the later '60s or early '70s--where the title of the article suggests that the editor had angst over Superman. And Schwartz makes a passing comment about that to dismiss it. My interpretation is that Julie thought Mort was trying to be dramatic so he could sell his article on Superman.

The reason I think I saw the comment in MAN OF TWO WORLDS is because I know I read it again recently--having read something like this before. And I was going through MAN OF TWO WORLDS for information on Edmond Hamilton to include in my mini bio on Hamilton for 50 Light Years to Lexor. So it just seems like that's where I ran across the comment, but I'll try again. There's a rather random organization to that book, which makes it hard to figure out just where any information might be found.

Nope. I went through MAN OF TWO WORLDS again and I can't seem to find the comment. But I know there was a comment like this either from Schwartz or someone else who knew Mort. Hopefully someone else better remembers what I'm half remembering and can tell us where to find it.

Oy vey! It suddenly dawned on me the fatal flaw in my memory. I'm afraid I got it all wrong. My apologies to Mr. Schwartz's family, my apologies to Mr. Weisinger's family, my apologies to your family, my apologies to my family! So sorry for sending anyone on a wild goose chase for something that doesn't exist.

It wasn't Mr. Schwartz at all. There's the fatal flaw. Since IF it was Julie that would give the statement more weight--because Schwartz and Weisinger had a friendship that went way back. I was so sure it was him, because I had been looking at his book.

But I forgot that I was also looking at another book--for my blog on MY SUPERMAN SUMMER--and that book has the elongated appellation of--CARMINE INFANTINO-PENCILER-PUBLISHER-PROVOCATEUR. Wherein, Infa sits down with Jim Amash for extensive interviews. 

Also, the article they refer to by Mort is: "I flew with Superman" in the October 2? '77 issue of PARADE MAGAZINE (I haven't yet read this article).

Since it's Infantino, his statements have to be taken with some salt--even though I love the guy, he could be opinionated, and he might have had an axe to grind.

Without more editorializing here's the exchange from page 124 of the above mentioned book with the ductile title--

JA: [referring to Weisinger] Around 1976, there was an article about him in PARADE magazine. He wrote that he spent years going to the psychiatrist because he didn't feel like he could measure up to the Superman character.

CI: That's just full of crap. That's all.

JA: But he didn't like himself.

CI: No, I don't think he did. He had this Ouija board in his office at one time, but we laughed at him. He threw it away after that. He was not a good looking man, you know. He was very unattractive, actually, and he used to laugh all the time. That made me nervous. He was brutal to some of the writers who worked for him. He was a detriment, because he used to give me a hard time when I was there. He used to go in Jack Liebowitz's office all the time and yell and scream and cry whenever he was unhappy. Jack used to tell me, "Leave him alone, leave him alone." So I let him go his own way, but I didn't like it and I didn't say anything to him. Mort was all business.

Yeah, that fits with the stories of all the writers he drove to Marvel.

Back to the voyeurism, that's not unique to Superman. Think of all the comics with characters looking at multiple video screens, or movies/TV that involve spying, eavesdropping or video snooping. Sex, Lies and Videotape; The Conversation; Sliver ... even The Dark Knight turned on Batman spying with video cameras.

Maybe it addresses some primal fear, or maybe it's just that writers of visual entertainment tend to think visually, so watching ends up as a plot point, just as it's what they are trying to get the audience to do.

Psycho is a perfect movie to study all the themes of voyeurism and watching and being watched and that kind of thing. We studied it in my film studies class many years ago and our prof was brilliant in pointing out all the scenes that show this. Right from the first shot, where we break through the window into the hotel room where we see Janet Legih half dressed in her bra--we are violating this personal space--but she is engaging in an illicit sexual affair in the afternoon when she should be working.

And then from there the images just pile up like that. And then the amazing shower scene, as poor Marion Crane lies dead in her shower, we see her blood swirling down the drain and that cuts to her eye--her dead eye that can't see anymore.

But really we live in a world where we are being watched and watching others. It's not really paranoia anymore--it's reality. 

I used to not understand why zombies were suddenly so popular, until I took a course at the university last fall. It had been awhile since I was on a university campus and young people kept bumping into me. They all had their heads down looking at their devices and they would bump into people or things, as they kept walking slowly, not even looking up to say sorry or see what they had bumped into. And then the zombie thing made sense. It's the perfect metaphor for what has happened to all these people. It's really strange how they walk like that, with the same slow movements of a zombie and you see them coming toward you and they just keep coming. It's bizarre.

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