Monday, February 25, 2008

The Commodity | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:

The Greatest American Hero aired between 1981 and 1983:

Despite its short life, the point of the show’s premise has a meaning that radiates back into the deep past (the 19th century) and into the future (the 21st century). What is its potent core, the source of the program’s incredible energy? An American consumer, William Katt, receives from aliens an amazing product: a “power suit.” But immediately after the aliens return to space, the consumer loses the instructions to this amazing product. He himself must now learn how to use the alien product.

For one, the premise of the show turns the alienation that deeply worried classical Marxist thought into a comedy. The worker/consumer literally receives the product from an alien. And because he does not understand how it works, he crashes into buildings, falls from the sky, runs into trees. We laugh at the fate of the clueless consumer. He has no idea what do with his product; it is alien to him.