Sunday, February 15, 2009

Superheroism and Supervillainy; Nation-building and Change We Can Believe in

Earlier yesterday, I was reduced to tears laughing at the content of Superdickery. Apparently it is a four-year-old-plus meme (even longer for the savvy readers during the Silver Age of comic books). Among the content are covers and snippets of Superman killing/abusing Lois, Lana, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and other girlfriends; Superman abusing/humiliating lackey Jimmy Olsen like Eric Cartman to Butters; Superman beating up fellow superheroes, normal citizens, the elderly, and the disabled; Superman being racist to the Japanese during World War II; Superman turning into a successful Hitler-like global tyrant (with a pope hat); and situations that question the sexual orientation of Batman.

And yes, there's the overuse of the word boner (in its archaic usage but has always been funny in my lifetime).

It got me thinking about superheroes and supervillains. Unless they're comically inept like cartoon Skeletor, they're the same in skill. The big difference is that superheroes are almost always defensive/reactionary, while supervillians are almost always offensive (both pronunciations)/proactive. Superman (minus the douchy moments) and Batman (regardless of orientation) are almost always there to save the day. It's a reaction. Their goal is to get things back to "normal," the status quo - not a golden age of peace and prosperity, but a sort of uneasy balance until the next battle.

The Lex Luthors and Jokers of the world are forces of true destiny-shaping change, beyond rectifying mistakes of the past. They want peace, even if this peace is genocidal silence. They want prosperity, mostly for themselves, but also for the future that they make. Of course, the most egotistic of supervillains want to be a part of that future, too, as some schemes involve a quest for immortality.

In Christian theology (for the devout) or mythology/legend (for the objective), God's original universal order is the status quo. Lucifer, an agent of change, subverts it by rebelling, failing, falling, and creating mischief (hilarity ensues with naked people, a serpent, and a piece of fruit). And so we have the death-rebirth deity Jesus bring the universe back to zero by sacrificing, resurrecting, saving the lost, and presiding over a future Judgment Day (or two). Who's the villain, and who's the hero?

Looking at our government executives, legislators, and judiciaries, do they fit in with this hero/villain dichotomy? Does their agenda involve world-shaping change (often identified with supervillainy), or are their plans for their locality/province/country/the world more reactionary - to clean up a previous mess and reset back to zero? The real world isn't a comic book or an ancient folk tale, and it depends on your perception of zero - the ideal status quo. Is zero 1950s Americana? Pre-steam Europe? Pre-gunpowder Asia? A Levant of herders and foragers, devoid of civilization and empires? An Africa of early humans who did not think themselves separate from nature? A golden age, ruled by just gods and content humans? A brighter age of humans free from rulers, divine and peer?

Less than a month into the new US Presidential Administration, is this notion of change merely reactionary to the previous or groundbreaking? Remember, heroes are often the small rubber erasers of a pencil; villains are usually sharpened writing point. The left will more likely see Obama's agenda as the eraser of Bush, while the right will accuse Obama of being the pencil point for the bogeyman of socialism/communism/Islamo-fascism. The same could be said of Bush's "nation building" (villainy for many) or his post-9/11 "homeland security" (heroism for others).

It's just a thought, possibly a boner on my behalf.

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2 comments:

  1. Great post. I'll probably respond and/link to it some time in the future when ready.

    The Lex Luthors and Jokers of the world are forces of true destiny-shaping change, beyond rectifying mistakes of the past.... Of course, the most egotistic of supervillains want to be a part of that future, too, as some schemes involve a quest for immortality.

    The first thing that came to mind when I read this was Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch -- Superman, or Overman. Anyways, see ya later!

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