Friday, May 17, 2002
Spider-Man

Spider-Man

Sexual habits of the North American Wall-crawler

Why the Green Goblin is the archetypical villain of the Viagra generation—and other sticky issues.

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) ::: philms ::: (1) Comments ::: Read the whole thing

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As Kirby states, Osborne represents aging baby-boomers on Viagra, and Parker must be the virulent youth, who turn to masturbation due to the modern climate fearful of sexuality. One can gain insight into the movie by examining how these roles are reinforced through the symbolism of their careers.

Though out the movie, employment represents sex and sexual prowess, as manifested through the imagery surrounding the main characters’ jobs. Parker’s intimacy with MJ is apparent by the way he keeps showing up outside her work and after her auditions. In response to his persistence, she rewards him with a glimpse of her waitress uniform, flashing it from under a trench coat. She then begs him, ‘don’t tell Harry,’ indicating her virginity and lack of intimacy with her boyfriend. An even more blatant image occurs as Parker triumphantly leaves J. Jonah Jameson’s office after winning his job as a freelance photographer with the Daily Bugle. He brags to the secretary, “I’m a photographer,” his camera draped prominently around his waist. She eyes his member/camera, and smiles, “I can see that.” 

The ‘work equals sex’ paradigm goes a long way toward explaining Norman Osborne’s reaction to loss of federal funding—it is equivalent to castration. The man upstairs wants to take away his sexuality (job) now that he is old and unable to perform. Osborne risks his life to keep this from happening. 

Meanwhile, Parker has found employment, and not only is it freelance, but he wins the position for taking pictures of HIMSELF. Could the auto-eroticism be any more blatant? Spiderman is the onanists’ hero, he’s self-conscious, racked by guilt, and preoccupied by fantasy. (Fans of the comic book will recall the ubiquitous ‘thought bubbles’ in the series, which manifest as Parker’s voice-overs in the film.) This interpretation is further supported by the way authority figures persistently misunderstand Spiderman, insisting he must be up to no-good, despite any evidence to the contrary.

Is the outcome of their final battle then nothing more than Joycelyn Elders’ decade-old advice that children should play with themselves to avoid spreading STDs? Does this attitude lead him to fear any type of sexual relationship so much that he rejects MJ in the end “to protect her”?

Posted by Alex Z on 21 May 04 at 08:05 PM

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