J.Jonah Jameson (Spider-Man) Warned The Baby Boomers, Gen X and Y about the Media.

Written by Matteo Sedazzari
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From the DC and Marvel Universes, Perry White and John (J) Jonah Jameson are both celebrated and fictitious Editors in Chief of their respective newspapers and cities.

Perry White is editor of The Daily Planet in the City of Metropolis, home to Superman. White is known as a firm but fair boss, who is ethical and compassionate to his staff, fellow citizens and the paper’s content. This is the newspaper where Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, originally worked as a reporter. Yet Kent’s first job as a reporter was with The Daily Star with George Taylor in 1939, soon to be replaced by Perry White, a character created for the 1940 Superman Radio Show, and White was incorporated into the comic that very year.

Perry White is supportive of Superman and has been involved in many key plots with The Man of Steel. Furthermore, Superman’s popularity with the American public and the world is more than likely enhanced by the media’s support, especially from The Daily Planet. A valuable lesson learnt here, if the press loves you, so will the world.

However, the cigar-smoking J Jonah Jameson with his trademark flattop haircut and his toothbrush moustache is the opposite of White.  Jameson is renowned for being ruthless and obsessive. For Jameson’s chief fixation is his resentment of the friendly neighbourhood hero Spider-Man as Jameson uses the newspaper that he is editor of, The Daily Bugle, New York City, to spear smear campaigns Spidey, a resident of New York. The Daily Bugle is where coincidentally enough, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man originally worked as a freelance photographer, to support his college tuition.

perry white j.jonah jameson superman spider man

Both White and Jameson are confident men, with strong opinions, yet Jameson believes that his opinion is the only opinion worth listening to, and those that disagree with him are in the wrong. Sounds a lot like the debates we have experienced and witnessed recently on social media.

Jameson’s arrogant and obsession with Spider-Man has itself become a major conflict throughout Spider-Man’s history, that it is on a par with the rivalry between Batman and The Joker, Superman and Lex Luthor. Yet unlike Spider-Man’s other foes, be it The Green Goblin, Dr Octopus or such like, Spider-Man can’t beat him in a fistfight, for Jameson is symbolic of the mainstream media, so Spider-Man/Parker has to learn to live with someone’s negative yet influential judgement of him, and resist the temptation just to knock Jameson out, which takes strength to avoid the impulse of aggression against a mean adversary.

However, many of the readers of The Daily Bugle respect Jameson’s opinions, due to the fact that it transpires in Spider-Man the comic, that he wrote in favour of the civil rights, and condemned the Ku Klux Klan stating that masked individuals cannot be stand up members of society. Therefore, it is his narrative of the KKK that Jameson uses to attack Spider-Man by associating a masked superhero with a masked racist group, is a powerful method to manipulate opinion, as supporting Spider-Man, due to him wearing a mask, might mean that the individual supports the Klan, and no one wants to be branded a prejudiced person. Jameson’s shrewd method helps to divide the city of New York and the US, as some see the web-slinger as a hero, whilst others as a menace to society. Jameson would use his dislike for masks throughout the comic as one of his core reasons for his dislike of Spider-Man

amazing spider man 53 jonah.jameson.peter.parker

Yet in The Amazing Spider-Man Issue 10 The Enforcers, published March 1964, Jameson, at the end of the story in an extremely rare moment of vulnerability, the cigar-smoking editor admits in three short panels, his real reason for his dislike of Spider-Man, he is jealous of him, it’s that simple yet disturbing.

Even though Jameson is honest about his envy of Spider-Man, he does nothing to change it. Instead of using his status and power further to take out his frustrations on someone who wishes to do good for the world.

So, Stan Lee, in the early sixties was demonstrating to his readers and future generations that those in control of the media, may use their influence to push their own beliefs and views, and not report the facts. Sounds familiar?

I didn’t understand this unusual flash weakness of Jameson the first time I read it as a child (BTW I wasn’t even born in 1964) but as an adult when I was flicking through the epic collection of The Amazing Spider-Man. The moment I recited it made perfect sense as Lee was, in a subtle pop art way, asking fans of Spider-Man to question the media, well before the term ‘fake news’ was created.

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Furthermore, Stan Lee was giving the world a brief lesson in psychology. That not only is jealousy an unpleasant mindset to be in, which leads to frustration and anger, which in turn makes the desirous individual to be brutal to those he is jealous of, which like Jameson who will use their own dogma to justify a callous action. Yet Spider-Man did not let Jameson’s thoughts and actions abolish him, in fact, Spider-Man focused on himself, and perhaps that is the most powerful philosophy Stan Lee gave us, believe in yourself and don’t worry what anyone thinks of you. Nice one Stan!

Read 2377 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 May 2020 09:07
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Matteo Sedazzari

Matteo Sedazzari

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