From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

“Ghetto Man” Roasts the Superfriends

Last week, author Karen Healey (who plays D&D) posted a link to the video clip below. It’s from Legends of the Superheroes, a live-action Superfriends variety show. You heard me.

There were only two one-hour specials, and it’s not surprising given the quality on display. The clip is from episode two: The Roast, and features one of the celebrity roasters: Ghetto Man.

You really just need to watch it for yourself. Then we can have a chat about it. Also, yes, that is the real Ed McMahon.

If you made it all the way though that clip, congratulations, you have a high tolerance for crazy. A few things that struck me off the bat: heroes from “minority areas” must, by necessity, be from the “ghetto”. Batman is down enough to hip-bump. Oh Adam West. Celebrity roasts, whether real or fictionalized, are rarely the place to find non-hackneyed comedy tropes. Ghetto Man delivers a pretty standard “White people are like this, but Black people are like this” routine (though I did enjoy the part where he said “You all look alike to me”). What I mostly wondered was: where are the actual black superheroes in this? Was Black Lightning too busy? John Stewart was around! Heck, they probably could have gotten Hannah-Barbera to let them use Black Vulcan.

In the 70’s there were apparently several black superheroes created based on Blaxploitation-era films. Since Ghetto Man clearly takes his attire and “jive” from these same sources, I’m still kinda curious as to why he was needed when other black (and possibly less overtly offensive) superheroes would do.

Ah well, we’ll never know. It was almost 30 years ago now.

If you’re at all interested in the history of black superheroes in comics, check out this wikipedia entry. And if you’re interested in seeing the rest of Legends, we found some clips on YouTube, helpfully collected in this playlist.  Have fun.

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