Now Playing: Queen of the Underworld, by Jesse Malin. (Hey, I never heard of him either, but it’s a pretty good song.) “You say you want a revolution; Something you can touch; Like an age old contradiction; With alcohol and lust; And all the things you have are broken; And you can’t go back if they’ve moved; From dysfunction to this function; You know I’m singing just for you.”
You know what comes next: … comes great responsibility. That’s why Spider-Man is my favorite superhero of all time. He wasn’t all-powerful like Superman. He wasn’t rich like Batman. He didn’t even want to be a superhero and tried to quit several times.
He was just a regular schmoe, a shy, glasses-wearing kid who got powers from being bitten by a radioactive spider. And what was his first response? Not to go knock in villain heads. He wanted to cash in by being an entertainer. Gotta admit, that’s probably what I’d do, too. (And I was a glasses-wearing shy kid when I started reading Spidey, too.)
Interlude: It Ought to be Easier, by Lyle Lovett. One of Lyle’s best: “See the sun comes up on the pavement; The pavement, it starts to sweat. The steam rises up from the water, And the hotter it is, you know the harder it gets.”
Fate, of course stepped in. Spidey didn’t bother to stop a robber who later killed his Uncle Ben. That’s when he learned the ultimate lesson. “With great power comes great responsibility.” What a great creed to live up to.
Anyway, powers or not, I’ve identified with Peter Parker (Spidey’s civilian alter-ego) over the years. For one thing, he worked in newspapers and magazines. He struggled with money, girls, friends and yelling bosses, but he always endured. Moreover, since that one lapse, he has always tried to do the right thing, even when it didn’t immediately benefit him.
Sometimes he falls short of that ideal, as we all do. But he always has it. I’ve never had great power, but I have tried to be responsible (or at least the grown-up version of me has).
I can’t say that everyone with great power takes that great responsibility part too seriously. One of my guilty television pleasures these days has been Undercover Boss, a show I thought I’d hate. Partly because of a misperception about it. I thought the bosses went undercover to catch employees goofing off. Which they undoubtedly could do – who among us doesn’t goof off on the job occasionally? Instead, it’s about bosses who go undercover to meet the folks who really keep the businesses going. Most have tragic and/or heroic backstories – it’s sappy, in a good way. The two times I’ve watched I’ve found myself crying at the end.
Anyway, the episodes I’ve seen have been about bosses who started with nothing and rose through the ranks. I’m not sure it happens that way for most large companies, though.
Would that it did. I think we might have a little less offshoring then. I know, I know. CEOs have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders to maximize returns for the company – that’s a fancy way of saying “anything to save a buck.” Anything, that is, except for executive salaries and perks. But there has to be other responsibility, too.
Peter Parker wouldn’t close factories and send jobs overseas. He’d use his webbing and brains and muscles and speed to figure out a better way. I wish he ran Freightliner or Hanesbrands or the hundreds of other companies that have put people on the streets while they sent jobs overseas. Or that the real bosses had an Uncle Ben to teach them. With great power …
“Long-haired preachers come out every night, Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right; But when asked how ’bout something to eat; They will answer in voices so sweet; You will eat, bye and bye, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay,You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.” – Joe Hill, There’ll be Pie In the Sky When You Die (That’s a Lie)