On Spiderman

Spinning a Web of Shame

By Joseph McCabe

Just the other day I was trawling the aisles of a local beach town boutique (the tacky kind that specializes in the sort of gifts one is apt to consider–or at least admit to considering–when on vacation). There, between the rubber vomit and the inflatable girlfriends, I spied a row of refrigerator magnets. One in particular caught my eye.

“I Don’t Do Guilt,” it boasted.

Though this particular credo wasn’t as witty as its surrounding brethren, it got me thinking. For I do “do guilt,” and very well, thank you. I used to think my prowess stemmed from my Catholic upbringing, in which I faced not only the omnipresent burden of Adam and Eve’s original sin, but the constant scrutiny of God and all of my dead relatives with Him in heaven. But I’ve met many recovering Catholics over the years (none of us are ex-Catholics, mind you–as they say, the Church, like the mob, never really lets anyone go), and most have not shared my hyper-awareness of sin. No, it’s not a lingering Catholic thing. For better or for worse, I’m just very comfortable with guilt. I do “do” it. Often. Which accounts, in part, for my fascination with Spider-Man.

Spidey, as everyone knows, was born of guilt. Sure, science served as the catalyst, conceiving him, if you will. Guilt, however, was the midwife, marking him in delivery and forever distinguishing him from all other superheroes. As everyone knows, Peter Parker, upon first gaining his spider powers, used them to make money.  …

More from Joseph McCabe

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS