Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Captain America Fights for Justice and Rhetorical Discourse!

Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby during World War II to voice the creators disliking toward Nazi Germany in the 1940's. They knew that the war would be inevitable, Joe Simon stated that, "The opponents to the war were all quite well organized. We wanted to have our say too." The creators of Captain America were trying to persuade the audience to support the war and to boost morale by showing Captain America as a good guy against the bad guys.
During World War II there was a spirit of "can be done" and I have never seen this in any other war era and I really think a huge supply of that support came from Captain America readers. Captain America sold one million copies per month after the debut issue, and lots of those issues were sent to soldiers on the war front in care packages. Imagine a soldier reading a Captain America comic and thinking to himself that he is a hero or patriot, or a child who recycles used tin and paper and thinks himself as a hero as well because Captain America said he was. This makes ordinary people present themselves with the reality that they are heroes doing their part for the war.

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby wanted to insight support for the war from its audience by showing a positive moral character. Captain America never killed anyone, which is hard to do in a war, but I think this made Captain America more likable to the general public. It is hard to make anything about a war seem appealing but mothers and school teachers thought that Captain America was a positive influence towards children. Again, the spirit of "can be done" was created by the stunning use of art by Jack Kirby. In the first issue of Captain America, the cover shows Captain America as a one man army punching Hitler in the face. With his American flag motif and shield he represented the Allied Powers while Hitler represented the Axis. This was such a powerful image in the 1940's that showed the wonderful use of rhetoric in order to alter peoples perception that the Axis could not be beat.
According to the collective conscience of my 1312 English class the definition of rhetoric is, "an epistemic art (creates knowledge) that forges a reality for an audience by a persuasive and informed rhetor, who wants to incite action or further discourse in order to alter perceptions for change." The creators of Captain America were both Jewish so they were of course outraged by the actions of Germany, so they definitely wanted to encourage action and support for the liberation of the Jews in Concentration camps. Over the years Captain America has sold an estimated 210 million comic books in over 75 countries and he was created out of great use of rhetoric.

1 comment:

La Cri said...

FANTASTICO! This really a great topic. At first when you told me about the topic, I was unsure. But this could even be a paper at a conference! Great start! Can't wait to see the paper, or really the process!

Mrs. R