2 years ago
shannonl5
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Steve Rogers: icon of traditional American values or radical liberal?
He wears the red white and blue and at his day job he's Captain America. But how can one hero represent a country that is so constantly divided? Because so many different people have contributed to his characterization since his introduction in 1941 (and the MCU has drifted towards the middle if they show any political inclination at all- they are summer blockbusters after all), it's not clear who Steve Rogers might have been, buried within all the mythology that comes with carrying the shield.
Captain America was first published in December 1940 (a year before before Pearl Harbor, when it was still unclear whether the U.S. would enter the war in Europe, and when). The first comic features Captain America in his star-spangled uniform punching Hitler in the face. He was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; both men were Jewish and poor. So, while Steve Rogers is depicted as a typical, all-American idealized man with enhanced strength, the men behind the concept were living in an America that was financially depressed and (to out it mildly) unfriendly towards immigrants as well as racial and ethnic minorities, which of course included Jews. Given this context, sending Steve Rogers off to war seems less about rabid American patriotism and more about wish fulfillment for two cartoonists unable to fight against the threat against their identities that the Nazis posed.
Fans today have continued to explore the dynamic between the Captain America persona and Steve Rogers' private character. Through character meta, fanfiction, and song, modern fans have challenged the assumption that Steve's politics would be conservative. They talk about his experiences as a child: growing up with a multitude of disabilities during the Eugenics movement. They talk about his ethnic identity, being the son of an Irish immigrant in New York in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, when the stigma against Irish immigrants was particularly virulent. via Steven Attewell
"Steve Rogers grew up poor in the Great Depression, the son of a single mother who insisted he stayed in school despite the trend of the time (his father died when he was a child; in some versions, his father is a brave WWI veteran, in others an alcoholic, either or both of which would be appropriate given what happened to WWI veterans in the Great Depression) and then orphaned in his late teens when his mother died of TB.[2] And he came of age in New York City at a time when the New Deal was in full swing, Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor, the American Labor Party was a major force in city politics, labor unions were on the move, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was organizing to fight fascism in Spain in the name of the Popular Front, and a militant anti-racist movement was growing that equated segregation at home with Nazism abroad that will eventually feed into the “Double V” campaign. Then he became a fine arts student. To be an artist in New York City in the 1930s was to be surrounded by the “Cultural Front.” We’re talking the WPA Arts and Theater Projects, Diego Rivera painting socialist murals in Rockefeller Center, Orson Welles turning Julius Caesar into an anti-fascist play and running an all-black Macbeth and “The Cradle Will Rock,” Paul Robeson was a major star, and so on. You couldn’t really be an artist and have escaped left-wing politics. And if a poor kid like Steve Rogers was going to college as a fine arts student, odds are very good that he was going to the City College of New York at a time when an 80% Jewish student body is organizing student trade unions, anti-fascist rallies, and the “New York Intellectuals” were busily debating Trotskyism vs. Stalinism vs. Norman Thomas Socialism vs the New Deal in the dining halls and study carrels."
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