This bit of news is a few months old, but Mark's humorous post about superhero/villain names ending in "O" started me thinking about it again, and so did a meeting today with a student who wants to do an independent study about superheroes.
This is an idea that should hit all my sweet spots: I love musicals, Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character, and I really dig U2 (as long as they're not managed by Dean Kincaid). Julie Taymor's presence is interesting, too: as one of the illustrious graduates of the school where I teach, I see a banner with her face on it every morning when I walk to campus (no, this is not some oddly Stalinist gesture: Cineville High had students make painted banners honoring their favorite famous grads of Cineville College, including, strangely, this one). It's like all the threads of my imaginative web have come together in this project. And yet, it seems like a really bad idea to me, and I can't figure out why.
Is it the failure, as the article notes, of other superhero-themed musicals? The relative inexperience of Bono and the Edge at stage music? Do I think Spider-Man will suddenly start talking about the ravages of Northern Ireland, or battle a supervillain called The Debtor? It's not like U2 is completely unfamiliar with superheroes: indeed, the band was arguably at their most interesting when Bono threw off his po-faced self-seriousness in favor of a "secret identity," The Fly, which allowed him a far greater degree of freedom, wit, and sensuality. And a stage musical probably isn't that much different than a stadium show these days, anyway.
So why, to pardon the pun, is this buggin' me? Jeff at Yellow Dog talks of how one "situtates" oneself in relation to certain texts, how certain texts allow for this and others don't. "Situations, or networks," he writes, "are the result of intersections. For the sake of pedagogy, they don’t have to be assumed as random or treated as avant-garde methodology: shooting randomly into the crowd. Rather, guidance as to where to locate the intersection is encouraged..." Locating these moments, he suggests, working with "the here and now," is the process of invention that all good writing should work through. I think what bothers me is how this musical blocks my intersection, creating a kind of car crash of ideas and influences that ends up being less inventive than enervating; like the lists of article titles and topics Jeff notes, Spidey: The Musical is a text that won't let me in to sing my own song. It might just be the cheese factor, but all of these elements come together for me less as a spur to invention
(as they might individually, before they get tangled) than a web that keeps me trapped, intellectually paralyzed like, well, a Fly, as the Spider edges closer and closer.