Ku Klux Kryptonite

Ku Klux Kryptonite (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)

Are comic books suffering because they are trying to emulate the action of videogames, rather than the edgy, thought-provoking content that only a fringe medium can provide?

In a striking series of radio episodes in the 1940s, Superman took on the Ku Klux Klan, after activist Stetson Kennedy spent time undercover with the organization, and fed the Superman producers information on the Klan’s secret procedures.

In Freakonomics, Levitt and Dubner write,

The Grand Dragon tried to run a normal meeting but the rank and file shouted him down. “When I came home from work the other night,” one of them complained, “there was my kid and a bunch of others, some with towels tied around their necks like capes and some with pillowcases over their heads. The ones with the capes was chasing the ones with the pillowcases all over the log. When I asked them what they were doing, they said they were playing a new kind of cops and robbers called Superman against the Klan…. I never felt so ridiculous in all my life! Suppose my own kid finds my Klan robe some day?”


It happened because Kennedy understood the raw power of information. The Ku Klux Klan was a group whose power — much like that of politicians or real-estate agents or stockbrokers — was derived in large part from the fact that it hoarded information. Once that information falls into the wrong hands (or, depending on your point of view, the right hands), much of the group’s advantage disappears.