It’s April, which means of course it’s Birthday Season for two very important people that influence this blog. The first, of course, is William Shakespeare, who is 449 years young today! And if William Shakespeare were alive today, what would he be most famous for?
If you answered Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, or Othello, you’d be wrong. No, if William Shakespeare was alive today, he’d be famous for being the oldest man in the world. Just a little birthday humor. Sorry, blog writing is a lonely place. I find humor in it where I can.
Of course, we don’t know what day William Shakespeare was actually born, but all records indicate that he was baptized on April 26th , so most people celebrate the Bard’s birthday on April 23rd, which was yesterday at this point. And as this blog loves to remind people on his birthday, yes, William Shakespeare existed, and yes, even though he stole the plot of just about every play he ever wrote, he did write his own plays. If he were alive today, other than the whole “being the oldest man” thing, William Shakespeare also probably would have given us several variations on Die Hard, including probably Olympus Has Fallen because he’d like to work with Gerard Butler more than Tatum Channing. But this is all speculation, we only know for a fact that William Shakespeare enjoyed working with Bruce Willis.
Happy 449th, Mr. Shakespeare.
The second birthday I’d like to celebrate has to do with a date that occurred last week on April 18th. That was the 75 Anniversary of the launch of Action Comics #1. Action Comics #1 featured the first appearance of Superhero Icon, Superman. Red trunks, giant “S” on his chest and all. And I’ve decided that this year, we’re going to celebrate.
And we’re going to celebrate not just because there’s a new Superman movie, Man of Steel coming out. We’re going to celebrate because it’s important to think about legacies. Now, I just got done thinking about William Shakespeare… a man who’s legacy is pretty much etched in stone until someone discovers, The Tale of William Madison, Fool of Venice and discovers that Adam Sandler was, in fact, a Shakespearean actor. But Superman is different. Whereas William Shakespeare spends much of his time being accused of being fictional, Superman is fictional. But he’s been an inspiration to many, including myself.
I’ve written in the past about the idea of superheroes and how they can affect us, and how every culture has had its tales of extraordinary people who do extraordinary things and we look up to them, from Hercules to Zeus to Odin to Brad Pitt. So Superman is in a long line of outsiders who simply want to make this adopted world something better.
Superman was always important to me. He was the outsider who could do anything, but it wasn’t just that he could do anything, it was that he could do anything but chose to help. Superman is a conscious effort to make things better because he can. And yes, the character has been re-interpreted and made sad, and made a bad guy…. But he’s also a guy filled with boundless optimism that things can get better. He keeps throwing Lex Luthor in prison because he genuinely believes that Lex can be a better person and help humanity. He doesn’t spend 24/7 as Superman because he doesn’t think the world needs him the whole time. Look, I may not be able to knock planets out of the sky with my heat vision, but I can hope, and I can hope for the world to be a better place. Superman is an ideal. It’s something we can all aspire to, even if it’s a little thing for a couple of minutes.
Enough smarm. Let’s keep things light on this Bad Shakespeare celebratory post.
So, let’s take a minute to say Happy Birthday as well to Superman… a creation that has inspired millions, including one Nicolas Cage to name his son after you. And not after your human name, either. After your Kryptonian Name.