Saturday, October 21, 2006

A question of ethics

A thought just occured to me in the midst of all the arguments over Spider-man's unmasking. One comment was the fact that he had essentially made a living taking photos of himself and this (coupled with the fact that the general public aren't to know what photos were posed/faked) was somewhat unethical.

But what do you think is more unethical:

Peter Parker making a living by selling photos of Spider-man?

OR

Clark Kent making a living by writing about Superman?

6 Comments:

Blogger Sleestak said...

Peter was the least ethical.

Clark Kent would write about what actually happened and being Clark, would not exxagerate the events or "make news" for a story. He successfully separated (in his own mind) the feats of Superman and his writing of them.

On the other hand, as was revealed once in the 80's, Peter would set up the fight locale and pose during the battle so he could make sure he would get the best pictures from his automatic camera.

10/21/2006 6:41 AM  
Anonymous stephen cade said...

But Pete got called on the staged photos--that he staged them with Spidey--for the most part he got the pictures as they happened---but Clark wrote the words and so could spin things his way--Clark is less ethical than Peter...

10/22/2006 4:38 AM  
Anonymous Al from Italy said...

They are doing both autobiographic work, as a lot of person in the superhero fictional world or in our real world. The only difference is that they have (or had) a pseudonim to present their works!
Clark Kent writes from his feelings about Superman life and the staged SM photos can be seen as "promotional" photos.
For me they are not unethical!

10/23/2006 5:23 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

As someone mentioned once, an odder thing to me was how Lois Lane never brought up the Clark Kent/Superman relationship.

I mean, wasn't THAT, in and of itself, a huge story?

10/23/2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

See, I don't think either one's necessarily unethical, until you get to the problem of faking stuff. As far as I know, Clark Kent has never faked a story about Superman; he actually does interviews, he accurately reports on what's happening, that sort of thing. He just doesn't mention that he's involved, as opposed to spectating.

Peter, on the other hand, has faked photos of himself, most notably in his first fight with the Sandman. He didn't get any pictures, so he photographed himself throwing down with a bucket of sand. That was unethical.

I think the only unethical things Clark could do would be if he actively made the news (started stuff as Superman, in order to report it as Clark), or faked an interview with himself. And knowing Clark, if he were assigned to interview Superman, he'd actually sit in front of a mirror and ask the questions.

I think we can let Peter's breach of ethics slide, since the Daily Bugle isn't exactly a bastion of credibility and honor. J. Jonah Jameson is at least as guilty of making, altering, and spinning the news as Peter Parker is.

10/28/2006 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Nobody said...

As far as I know, Clark Kent has never faked a story about Superman; he actually does interviews, he accurately reports on what's happening, that sort of thing. He just doesn't mention that he's involved, as opposed to spectating.

But would a newspaper let a reporter write the article reporting on an event in which they were involved, or indeed one of the main participants?

Reporters are ethically obligated to include a "full disclosure" sentence if they are even related to someone in a story they're reporting on. Not to do so would be considered hiding potential bias, regardless of whether the product is actually biased or not.

But then, isn't that the paradox of a heroes with "secret identities"? The hero usually has to lie to people to protect his identity (though it is possible never to actually deny it if no one asks you directly I suppose). However, since Superman does not wear a mask he is unique in not preventing anyone from identifying him if they can (assuming he's not superhypnotizing everyone).

Anyway I think it's better for Lois to be the one who writes about Superman (pre-marriage anyway); I think Clark would try to avoid writing such pieces.

The ethical issue would become so convoluted I think it's best not to make comics "realistic." The secret identity is one of the expectations of a hero, and to interrogate it in a "real world" context is to undermine the whole premise (cough cough).

11/03/2006 7:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home