Dennis O’Neil: Defy! We Dare Ya!

cw-dare-to-defy

by Dennis O’Neil

Done any daring to defy lately?

If you’re a fan of the television versions of superheroes, you know what I’m talking/typing about. The network that calls itself The CW has, for a while now, been advocating such daring and this is the very same the go-to corporate entity that has made itself the go-to bandwidth for costumed do-gooders. They already have, in Arrow and The Flash, a couple of established hits (provided your definition of “hit” is modest) and in Legends of Tomorrow a show that has at least enough watchers to warrant renewal for another season. And the biggie…Supergirl has, with much hype, migrated from the kind of old-folkish CBS to the youthier CW and we Maid of Might mavens are allowed a happy sigh.

But about that youthiness and that “daring to defy” business: Really? Can they possibly mean it? Since they don’t specify exactly what they want us to defy, I have to guess that what we’re asked to defy is what we children of the Sixties might refer to as “the Man.” You know – the Establishment. The necktie wearers. Wall Street. Politics. Corporate America. The military-industrial complex (a term coined by no less an Establishment icon than President Dwight D. Eisenhower.)

Well, okay, but…where to begin? A logical answer: Consumerism. A denial of, or least a vigorous questioning of, t shirt wisdom, something like Whoever Has the Most Toys When He Dies Wins. So, all you wannabe defiers, stop buying stuff you don’t need. Stop discarding clothing just because some Seventh Avenue pooh-bah has declared it unfashionable which, I think, means whatever the pooh-bahs say it means. (And rest in peace, Noah Webster.) And if this means buying clothing that’s durable instead of merely new, amen. While you’re at it, extend that policy to motor vehicles, appliances, furniture, housing, vacation sites, playthings. If you’re killing time waiting for Supergirlto come on, you can make your own list.

But whoa. Subtract the money wasted on the unnecessary and suddenly those bandwidth-borne heroes aren’t there anymore. The money we spend (waste?) on frivolities pays for the programs we enjoy. No wasted cash = noSupergirl (who, it might be said, is herself a frivolity, but we could be flirting with blasphemy here, so let’s not.)

Okay, we exempt consumerism from the list of things we defy. What else? School? Hey, I am the husband of a teacher and the father of a professor and have been known to stand at the front of classrooms myself, so you aren’t going to catch me knocking education, though some varieties of it might deserve a knock or two. Besides – big secret a’comin’ – it’s fun to know stuff.

Now, a true story. At my high school graduation the school’s principal told my mother that the good Christian Brothers never wanted to see me again. Maybe if you wore a funny collar you could spot a defier from a mile away and if they said Joe O’Neil’s offspring was a defier, well, they were the authorities. But that offspring didn’t knowhe was a defier.

You don’t believe me?


Dennis O’Neil is one of the top writer-editors in comics, having guided the careers of just about every superhero the world has ever heard of. He’s also a damn fine writer of TV. LB still remembers that time he and Denny collaborated, without ever knowing they were doing so. Or knowing each other either. Ah, the magic of TV! This post was first published in Denny’s column at ComicMix.
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