Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why aren't we superheroes yet?

 I saw Kick-Ass on Monday morning (let me tell you, seeing a 12 year old girl cut mobsters in half before I've had my daily sannich perhaps not the way director Matthew Vaughn had intended his film to be consumed) a film about a kid existing in a "real world" who decides to forgo the rampant saneness of our times and put on a wetsuit and fight "evil".  I've got opinions and they'll be posted soon enough, but what the film drew from me, a latent comic book geek who has, many many times over, fantasized about wearing spandex and beating up muggers, is why haven't we seen this happen in real life yet?

We're a culture in love with heroes.  We love lauding an individual who's performed an act of stupifying "good".  We love wrapping up our anger at the violence and terror of the world in to a single person, a single act, a single tip-of-the-iceberg bit of expulsion.  We label our good and our bad with terms like "heroes" and "villains" regardless of what they're wearing.

Alongside this we're fixated on films that remove us from the grays of our casual existence.  We as a culture love the notion of black and white.  Of, again, good, evil, right, wrong and on and on.  Comic books, films, books - the most popular of our times are those that give power in to the hands of one we can easily associate with one side of the moral coin.  Look at the rise in popularity of the super-hero film! We want nothing more than to be able to skip past the rules and moral regulations that hamper our abilities and throw on a pair of tights, grab a few guns and take to the streets.

And I ask: why hasn't anyone yet?  Why are our news stories every night focused on car crashes and shootings in schools and fluffy bits of emotionalized fluff?  What keeps us as a society from taking a step over that line of proposed sanity and bedecking ourselves in colorful costumes and fighting the "criminals" of the world?

Even our superhero films and comic books have slanted more towards the realistic.  Look at Iron-Man and Kick-Ass, films that put weight behind being a superhero, that transpose the spandex clad heroes of our youth in to slightly skewed versions of our real world.  In both films the scrapes that our heroes take leave scars and cause death.  The villains of these pieces our mobsters and weapon developers (sure weapon developers with giant robot suits, but give me a break), real life characters that we as an audience can recognize and hate even more.  Public consensus seems to be that we enjoy a bit of fantasy immersed in the reality of our day-to-day lives.  We like the notion that out there somewhere a superhero is battling the forces of evil, keeping us safe in our beds.  Look at the military and their need to make out as if each and every soldier is some sort of power-endowed superman, fighting the noxious forces of terrorist evil.

Yet, when am I going to be able to turn on the news and see a nineteen year old kid with lazer guns on his wrists, flying across the sky in pursuit of a grandma's floral purse?   Have we relegated ourselves to the mundane, the military, the simple notion that heroes wear uniforms and have badges? 

I hope not.  I hope that someday I walk past a television store and a crowd of people has gathered outside and we are not watching the State of the Union, but instead we are tuned in to a fellow dressed like a bat, grappling with a bank robber wearing the guise of a clown.


Criterion Counsel:  My brother said I should try and finish one a week.  And I think that's a pretty doable bit of quest quota.  Thus, I'll fire up M. Hulot's Mon Oncle tonight, for at least a few moments.

1 comment:

David said...

Dude, there are some superheros out there, but they are mostly sad, and just this side of sane.