2019 Annual Graduate Student Symposium

Title

With Great Power Comes Terrible Memes: Tracing Alt-Right Roots in the History of Spider-Man

Award Winner

Recipient of the 12th Annual Graduate Student Symposium Scholarship Award, Oral Presentations, Oak Room - Second Place (2019)

To go to the Graduate Student Symposium event page, Click here

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

Spider-Man (Fictitious character); Trump, Donald, 1946-; Conservatives--United States;

Abstract

Peter Parker becomes a fantastic manifestation of the American dream when he transforms from a bullied high schooler to the unimaginably gifted, righteous vigilante known as Spider-Man. Except, as Marc Dipaolo points out in his essay “Spider-Man as Benedict Arnold, Objectivist, and Class Warrior,” “Spider-Man is the quintessential loser-hero.” Despite his immense power and the iconic status of his alter-ego, Peter Parker consistently struggles to make ends meet. What makes Spider-Man the ideal working-class hero is that, through adversity, he acknowledges his privilege and continues to fight for some greater good. What happens to Spider-Man without this sense of optimism though? In this paper, I will argue that the answer to that question is simple: we get Donald Trump and the Alt-Right.

This paper will examine Spider-Man’s origin story and try to find the divergence point where Spider-Man decides to reject the form of nihilism encapsulated by the Alt-Right’s internet trolling. I will consider Donald Trump’s distinction as the loser who won and the Alt-Right’s path to trolling nihilism, established by Dale Berran in his essay “4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump” in comparison to Spider-Man’s “loser-hero.” I hope to explore the idea that, essentially, Donald Trump and Spider-Man are twins, standing in front of different funhouse mirrors.

Start Date

3-4-2019 12:00 PM

End Date

3-4-2019 2:00 AM

Year of Award

2019 Award

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Brooke Wonders

Department

Department of Languages and Literatures

File Format

application/pdf

Embargo Date

4-17-2019

Electronic copy is not available through UNI ScholarWorks.

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Apr 3rd, 12:00 PM Apr 3rd, 2:00 AM

With Great Power Comes Terrible Memes: Tracing Alt-Right Roots in the History of Spider-Man

Peter Parker becomes a fantastic manifestation of the American dream when he transforms from a bullied high schooler to the unimaginably gifted, righteous vigilante known as Spider-Man. Except, as Marc Dipaolo points out in his essay “Spider-Man as Benedict Arnold, Objectivist, and Class Warrior,” “Spider-Man is the quintessential loser-hero.” Despite his immense power and the iconic status of his alter-ego, Peter Parker consistently struggles to make ends meet. What makes Spider-Man the ideal working-class hero is that, through adversity, he acknowledges his privilege and continues to fight for some greater good. What happens to Spider-Man without this sense of optimism though? In this paper, I will argue that the answer to that question is simple: we get Donald Trump and the Alt-Right.

This paper will examine Spider-Man’s origin story and try to find the divergence point where Spider-Man decides to reject the form of nihilism encapsulated by the Alt-Right’s internet trolling. I will consider Donald Trump’s distinction as the loser who won and the Alt-Right’s path to trolling nihilism, established by Dale Berran in his essay “4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump” in comparison to Spider-Man’s “loser-hero.” I hope to explore the idea that, essentially, Donald Trump and Spider-Man are twins, standing in front of different funhouse mirrors.