Introducing Muslim Superhero Simon Baz


It is a case of art imitating life and then moving off in all directions . The American giant DC Comics has just introduced a new superhero and he is Muslim. The fictitious Simon Baz has entered the scene, an Arab-American auto worker from Dearborn Michigan. And he comes just as that provocative film on the life of the prophet Mohammed has sparked protests which have now spread from Libya; and Egypt to Yemen and Tunis and Iraq. Today we're looking at how a bit of popular culture can fight a stereotype.

Introducing Muslim Superhero Simon Baz - Comic Store Owner Dan Merritt

From out of the despair of the crumbling U.S. auto sector, Simon Baz finds himself in an incriminating situation with deeply suspicious authorities.

We aired a reading from the latest DC comic book in the Green Lantern series.
Baz is the latest superhero to wear the Green Lantern's ring. But before he earns his astonishing powers, he's just an unemployed autoworker - turned - car thief, from Dearborn, Michigan. But police are really curious about what he's carrying in the trunk.

Of course we know, Baz hasn't really done anything terribly wrong. But what we learn is that Baz is an Arab American ... Muslim. His creator is also an Arab-American.

Geoff Johns chose his hometown to officially launch Simon Baz into the comic book universe ... just last week. One of the launching pads was the Green Brain Comics store in Dearborn. Dan Merritt owns the store with his wife Katie. And he joined us from Dearborn, Michigan.

The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn has a room dedicated to Geoff Johns graphic novels. Matthew Jaber Stiffler is a researcher at the museum. Geoff Johns showed him the Baz script before it was published, to be sure he got it right. We aired a clip.

Introducing Muslim Superhero Simon Baz - Muslim Pop Culture Researcher

As you've been hearing on the news, the protests in Libya and Egypt have now spread to Tunisia, Yemen and Iraq as well as Tehran and Dubai. On the surface, they appear to have been triggered by snippets of a film that seems to deliberately degrade Islam.

There continues to be speculation -- and you heard it on this program yesterday as well -- that Islamic extremist groups, perhaps even Al Qaeda, have either tried to foment the anger or harness it.

Jack Shaheen has researched the portrayal of Muslims and Arabs in pop culture for more than 40 years. His latest book is called Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs After 9/11. He was in South Carolina.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch, Ellen Saenger and Liz Hoath.

Other segments from today's show:

The Reality of Honey Boo Boo

Checking - In: Listener Response

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