The Symbol Behind the Mask
Cross Cultural Communications
November 16, 2010
Imagine being eight years old and all you want to be for Halloween is Superman. Superman is incredible: he fights evil and never fails at saving the world. Superman among many other superheroes hold a place in many people’s hearts for being extraordinary. Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, and X-men are just among a few more superheroes that children and adults around the world want to relate to. A superhero is defined as: “a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers” (Merriam-Webster, 2010). Not all superheroes have to possess an unnatural talent, for instance Batman is a superhero who is just a person with tremendous skills and success. Superheroes are more than the characters in a comic book or on the big screen; these characters symbolize a desired way of life. Symbolism
The purpose of this essay is to examine different superheroes throughout the years and determine the symbolism behind their “masks” and how it relates to communication. Culture is considered to be symbolic. Through images, gestures, and words, symbols are used to convey meanings. Symbols allow for cultures to transmit and preserve different meanings. Symbols define beliefs and values that are important to a culture (McDaniel, Porter, Samovar, 2009). Superheroes have many symbols themselves whether it is the letter on their chest or an image that illuminates in the sky as a cry for help. These images will be analyzed as well as how superheroes themselves can be a symbol to different cultures while communicating. Common Traits of Superheroes
Superheroes are known because of the many common traits they all share. Usually a superhero can be recognized by their flashy gear or the special power they hold. For example some superheroes fly while others have their own car named after them. Every superhero is different in this aspect, but as stated earlier each of them is extremely successful and that is what sets them apart. Each superhero has a strong moral code they abide by, usually having something to do with fighting the bad guys to help the good guys. And with this moral code they have motivation to follow their beliefs. Each superhero gets their motivation from something different whether it is from love or a traumatic experience. Many characters also tend to have a dual identity, meaning that the character hides the fact that they are a superhero. They live their life normally and only reveal to a select few that they are a superhero as well. The most important common trait is their history. History helps define people and their culture. Every superhero has a reason as to why they are the way they are. When looking at each superhero it will be easier to understand the symbolism behind each character and what they truly represent. The Superheroes
The “S” on Superman’s chest is a well-recognized symbol around the world, as seen to the right (www.coolchaser.com, 2010). The letter stands for more than just superman. The letter also stands for: saving lives, stopping crime, and providing super-aid whenever necessary. The colors also represent different places. The yellow behind the letter “S” symbolizes the sun, and the red coloring of the actual letter represents the planet Krypton’s sun: where Superman is from (www.mycorporatelogo.com, 2010). There is more symbolism than just the Superman logo. For example many people believe that because the character had a dual identity there had to be symbolism behind that. Clark Kent was a mild man with geeky glasses who did not seem like the type who fought crime, where as his other identity was Superman: someone who circled the earth and beat the bad guy. The idea of dual identity has been said to represent the immigrant background of America. This is the idea that there will always be a constant struggle to fit it. People felt like they had to take on the personality that would be accepted by all, that...
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