Spider-Man has always had a relationship with the media. From Peter Parker taking his own photos for The Daily Bugle to Spider-Man being the talk of the town, the hero is no stranger to media attention.
It’s interesting how the media is portrayed in the recent Spider-Man movie, No coming home. This performance speaks to the current relationship of our culture with the dissemination of traditional news, especially among young people.
While aware of the spoilers, the media in the recent Spider-Man universe has fallen from their dominant position of credibility and authority – though it’s debatable if that was ever the case.
Media coverage of J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle is alarmist and propagandist. It’s deliberately misleading and contradictory to Peter Parker and his friends with whom the disproportionately younger audience identifies. The false narrative pushed by the news appears to undermine Spider-Man and sow division among the citizens – all recorded from a small, dark, empty apartment that’s manipulated to look like a well-respected studio.
It seems to reflect a common feeling that young people have about traditional news networks – that they are biased, divisive and hollow. According to a late 2021 Gallup poll, young people are more skeptical of traditional news media than their parents and are more likely to get their news from media that aren’t traditional TV shows.
This complicated relationship between young people and mainstream information is depicted in the film through the presentation of mainstream media as contradictory, performative and hypocritical. The perceived lack of credibility of traditional news is also representative of North American culture in general. Another 2021 Gallup poll found that 63% of Americans don’t trust the media.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels nostalgia for a time when cable news networks were a common bond for a community. The information was reliable, relevant and informative.
In 2022, that sentiment has changed. You’d be hard-pressed to find a youngster who doesn’t have a nuanced perspective on mainstream news. Political bias, propaganda and corporate interests have made it difficult for young people to see mainstream news in a positive light. This idea is represented by the news media opposing young Spider-Man heroes.
Ultimately, the representation of traditional news in No coming home represents the general perspective of young people and society at large that traditional television is like an angry middle-aged man spreading fear and misinformation from his apartment.