The following is a first person editorial.
Superheroes do say something about the real world, but it’s something pretty uncontroversial: We want to see good triumph over evil, and “good” in this case means more than just defeating the bad guy—it means handling power responsibly.
There’s a HUGE logical fallacy here.
The superhero exists to maintain the Status Quo, where Joe Pitstop can drive down to the store for a quart of milk and not be trampled by a giant robot or alien invasion. That’s all well and good … if you’re invested in the status quo, this fragile world so many deign to call “good.”
What it ignores is the fact that Jamal Pitstop worked at the same company as Joe, and due to the short selling of stocks, his job got axed and his pension fund raided while the execs in question got board positions for other companies and golden parachutes. That company, by the way, got paid to clean up after the giant robot was beaten. Joe Pitstop makes a very determined point to avoid driving through Jamal’s neighborhood, because of all the drugs and the crime and the despair and the … well, you know.
Let alone Jim Bob Pitstop, whose family farm was driven out of business by Monsanto monopoly tactics, and his wife Sara Pitstop ended up dancing down at the Stop & Poke to make the mortgage. Or Ramon Pitstop, whose family was displaced by a corrupt dictator propped up by tax monies Joe Pitstop faithfully paid.
The Superhero, 99% of the time (apologies to Batman: The Hill), likewise only flies his panties-on-the-outside person over these latter neighborhood briefly, to either kick some undereducated, underemployed, resource deprived person in the face before sending them back into the system, or to never even look down as they race into the future.
The people down there? They want Braniac to win. They love it when the Rhino smashes Times Square, because their bus route doesn’t go that way and it gives those fat cats some pain. Whatever the villains have in store, for many people, the question is, “could it really be worse than this?”
Is that “fascist?” Maybe not … but oppression by any other name still has the sole of a boot on somebody’s neck, regardless of whether that boot is government issue or from some far off impossible land. The worldview and status quo so vehemently protected by drunken billionaires in armor or strange visitors from another world, the one Yogerst calls “good,” has led to the hatred and desperation of billions around the world. Yay, Mongul or Thanos has been beaten! Back we go to our lives … such as they are.
How, though? Those watching him can’t fly, topple buildings or fire heat rays from their eyes. What else does Superman do other than these purely physical feats?
Hasn’t the superhero failed the mandate if they work predominantly with punching and not in the meat and grist of man’s everyday life? Cooper slammed it home here:
Maybe one day we will get the hero we need: one who challenges rather than reinforces the status quo.
… which Yogerst blithely brushed by. Are these really the lives we’re all entitled to? Are they? Really? Are you sure? A different perspective might see the power in the sky as a much less positive thing.
“Hang on, what about when superheroes try to fix real world problems?” You mean like the textbook case of this, the embarrassing Superman: Peace on Earth where the Last Son of Krypton struggles with his own impotence in the face of malnourished sub Saharan warlords? Eventually he gave up and went back to problems he could get his meaty, Kansas-bred fists around. He has super speed. He barely needs food. Heat vision. Telescopic vision. Advanced technology. If Superman was so inclined, there is no issue he couldn’t handle, largely from his couch. Tony Stark’s a billionaire. Batman never even put up a light and a freaking closed circuit camera on the alley where his parents were gunned down. In the words of Dolores O’Riordan, “sure, things would change if we really wanted them to.”
Power over all is at the root of the most common concepts of fascism, whether it follows the strictness of the dictionary definition or not. In a day and age where “selfie” officially makes it into the linguistic lexicon, perception trumps fact more often than it should … just as that cape flutters over all the drug deals, the rapes, the murders it easily could put a stop to.