Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just Thinking Out Loud: Superheroes Mania

A few weeks ago the City of San Diego was abuzz with its biggest annual convention, ComicCon. Downtown was totally swamped with visitors who spent millions of dollars at our local business. Truth be told, the San Diegans had as much fun sight-seeing their visitors as did the other way around. It's the only week of the year where you can walk past Captain Jack Sparrow, the Joker, the Riddler, Batman, Captain America, Harry Potter, Spiderman, etc all lounging around within a couple of city blocks of each other without causing any explosion or train wreck (though the sheer number of them did sort of wreck our trolley system for a few days).
Capt. Jack in search of lunch
I did read comic marvels in my youth, though my reading list gave way to more serious and less fantastic stuff somewhere in the seriousness of my grade school years. I still enjoy re-reading original classics though usually won't stay with them for long. 

What intrigues me about this current mainstream adoration of comic marvel superheroes (they seem to have taken over much of Hollywood now) is that my fellow adults are as much into it as the kids are. I can understand a child or a young adolescent's fascination with the concept of ordinary people being given fantastic supernatural power (some more dubious than others) so that they can use it to improve the world that they live in. For those who have matured beyond child-/adolescent-hood, however, I wonder if they aren't overindulging in this not very realistic theme a bit. 

Even super-villains need a ride once in a while.
There are a few things that are fundamentally uninspiring in comic heroes. First off, they usually didn't do anything to earn their supernatural power. The thing is given to them either with or without their consent. That they would choose to use it 'for good' is admirable except for the way in which their power is often used 'for good'. 

That brings me to the second, the preference for using force to settle all disputes and the blatant disregard for unintended consequences and collateral damages. It doesn't matter if the hero blows up a sidewalk full of people in his pursuit of one bad guy. The audience/readers are encouraged to cheer brutal beating up and killing of the bad guys, and to not notice the blassé indifference attitude in which the hero treats the life of bystanders (only the hero and the leading lady and/or the president he's trying to save count, everyone else is expendable and expended with). The corpses of the innocent are nearly never shown and all will hail the hero's triumph and forget all about the good dead in the end scene... which almost always ends at the end of the action (who cares about the cleaning up and mourning process after all the mess anyhow?).
Really, doesn't that strike you as the attitude a whole lot of people have these days? Wanting to be given things rather than to work hard to earn them? Only caring about short-term goal with near total disregard for long-term consequences? Copping out of taking the initiative to do their part in fixing their community's problem because, well, they hadn't been given any supernatural power?

Perhaps a lot of people of all the generations that have existed think that way (so ours isn't the worst era that ever was). I'm not condemning the comic movies and books either... I actually don't really know if they are driving the 'let someone else who 'have' do the fixing of things' attitude or if they are merely reflecting/catering to the already pre-existing condition. Lest my liberal readers protest that I'm picking on the 'have not's', I think the riches of today are exhibiting at least as much of the 'entitlement' attitude as those they'd like to call 'socialists' or 'liberals' do. We are all in this icky soup together and nobody is going to come and get us out of it. Everyone has to do their part whether they have or not!

And no, what's happening in London isn't an example of someone doing their part to fix things... And Mr. Cameron's idea about messing with social network sites there isn't either. vomit smiley #7502


Anonymous said...

It looks as though there may be some"good" to come out of this mess after all. The father of the Asian boy killed by a car has appealed to his community for calm and his dignified stance is having an effect. Various communities are also coming together for the clean up and this may lead to positive strategies for change where it is needed. Oh - and one of your US police commissioners is coming over to give advice on gangs!!

Smorg said...

Hey Eyes,
I hope the worst is over indeed, and that the UK comes out of this better than it went in. Guess we all sometimes need a good glimpse of the abyss before we shape up and do something to stop the downslide, ay? :o)

Thanks for the update!