एक नायक के साथ 75 साल

यह महज एक संयोग रहा होगा कि जिस महीने सुपरमैन को 75 साल पूरे हुए उसी दौरान एक अमेरिकी बिल्डिंग कान्ट्रैक्टर डेविड को मिनेसोटा में एक घर की दीवार के पीछे बरसों से अंधेरे में दबी सुपरमैन पहली कामिक हाथ लग गई। जून 1938 में छपी ने इस सुपरमैन की इस पहली कॉमिक बुक की पिछले दिनों नीलामी हुई तो उस शख्स को 1,75,000 डॉलर मिले।

जून 1938 में प्रकाशित रंगीन कवर वाली इस कॉमिक पर कहीं सुपरमैन नहीं लिखा था। हां, लाल-नीले कपड़ों में एक शख्स हरे रंग की कार को उठाए नजर आता है। यह महज एक शुरुआत थी- किसी ने भी नहीं सोचा था कि सर्कस के खिलाड़ियों जैसे चुस्त कपड़े पहनने वाला यह चरित्र एक पॉपुलर कल्चरल आइकन बनकर खड़ा हो जाएगा। यही वह 1934 के बाद का दौर था जब सारी दुनिया पर दूसरे विश्व युद्ध का संकट मँडरा रहा था। जर्मनी में नाज़ियों की ताकत बढ़ रही थी। अमेरिका ने जबरदस्त आर्थिक मंदी देखी और उसके असर से उबरने की कोशिश में लगा था।

superman-dominates-popular-cultureइस विश्वव्यापी उथल-पुथल की पृष्ठभूमि में लेखक जेरी सीगल और आर्टिस्ट जो शुस्टर क्लीवलैंड में एक दूसरे से मिले और सुपरमैन की रचना हुई थी। सुपरमैन सुदूर अंतरिक्ष में नष्ट हो चुके एक ग्रह से धरती पर आया था। धरती का कम गुरुत्वाकर्षण और सूर्य की किरणें सुपरमैन के असाधारण शक्तियों का स्वामी बना देती हैं। सुपरमैन के लिए कपड़ों का चयन इस तरह किया गया कि उसके शारीरिक सौष्ठव का अंदाजा लगाया जा सके। सुपरमैन के सीने पर एस लेटर लिखा गया। सुपरमैन के कंधे पर झूलता एक लाल कपड़ा लगाने के पीछे यह विचार था कि वह जब हवा में उड़े तो ऐक्शन का एहसास हो।

अमेरिका की आर्थिक मंदी के दौरान सीगल और शुस्टर के वामपंथ के प्रति झुकाव को सुपरमैन की शुरुआती कहानियों में साफ देखा जा सकता है। जहां सुपरमैन खुद से समाज के प्रति अपनी जिम्मेदारियों को स्वीकार करता है और भ्रष्ट उद्योगपतियों से लड़ता है। सुपरमैन के रचयिताओं की यहूदी पृष्ठभूमि का भी सुपरमैन के चरित्र निर्माण पर गहरा असर है। दूसरे ग्रह से आया सुपरमैन किसी यहूदी शरणार्थी की तरह अमेरिकन संस्कृति में घुलमिल जाने की आकांक्षा रखता है।

मगर वक्त के साथ सुपरमैन बदलता गया। शुरुआती सुपरमैन सिर्फ लंबी छलांग मारकर ऊंची इमारतों को लांघते दिखता था, मगर जैसे-जैसे हवाई यात्राएं लोकप्रिय हुईं सुपरमैन भी उड़ता हुआ दिखने लगा। बाद के दिनों में जब अमेरिका एक सुपरपॉवर और विश्व की अहम सैन्य ताकत के रूप में सामने आया तो सुपरमैन भी ईश्वर के समकक्ष एक ऐसे ताकतवर किरदार के रूप में दिखा जो पूरी दुनिया या मानव सभ्यता का संरक्षक है। सुपरमैन के असली नाम कॉल-एल में बाइबिल से जुड़ी साम्यताएं दिखती हैं, जहां प्रत्यय ‘एल’ का अर्थ ईश्वर द्वारा अथवा ईश्वर प्रदत्त माना जाता है।

सुपरमैन की इस बदलती शख्सियत का एक व्यावसायिक पहलू भी है। सन् 1981 में सीगल और शुस्टर ने सुपरमैन के कॉपीराइट्स डिटेक्टिव कॉमिक्स को बेच दिए, जो बाद में डीसी कॉमिक्स के नाम से पॉपुलर हुआ। इस प्रकाशन को बाद में वॉर्नर ब्रदर्स की एक कंपनी ने टेकओवर कर लिया और बड़े पैमाने पर दर्शकों को अपनी ओर आकर्षित करने के लिए नए बिज़नेस मॉडल पर काम करना शुरू किया। सुपरमैन के किरदार ने वॉर्नर ब्रदर्स के लिए पाँच फिल्मों में अमरीकी बॉक्स ऑफ़िस से 500 मिलियन डॉलर या 29 अरब रुपए से भी ज़्यादा का कारोबार किया है। इतना ही नहीं इस किरदार ने हज़ारों करोड़ रुपए टेलीविजन, खिलौने, गेम्स और कॉमिक्स के ज़रिए पिछले 75 सालों में कमाए हैं।

यह अचरज का विषय है कि इतने सालों में सोसाइटी और पॉपुलर कल्चर के न जाने कितने ट्रेंड्स बदल गए मगर सुपरमैन की लोकप्रियता घटी नहीं बल्कि बढ़ी है। शायद इसका जवाब चर्चित लेखक उम्बर्तो इको के पास है जो सुपरमैन को पॉपुलर कल्चर के बीच एक आधुनिक मिथकीय नायक के रूप में परिभाषित करते हैं। पहचान छिपाने के लिए सुपरमैन एक आम इनसान क्लार्क कैंट के रूप में लोगों के बीच रहता है। इस दोहरी पहचान का पश्चिमी आधुनिक सभ्यता की साइकी से गहरा रिश्ता है। ग्लोबलाइजेशन के दौर में दोहरी पहचान के जरिए सुपरमैन आप्रवासी नागरिकता को वैधता प्रदान करता है और दो भिन्न संस्कृतियों को एक साथ लेकर चलने का एक आसान रास्ता प्रस्तुत करता है। किसी पुराने मकान के अंधेरे में दबी उस कॉमिक्स के पहले अंक की तरह शायद यह चरित्र भी वैश्विक समाज के अचेतन में कहीं गहरे तक डूबा हुआ है।

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