Sunday, March 20, 2005

America's Fascination With Superheroes

Actually its quite simple why we flock to tales of men and women running rampant through our streets wearing spandex.

Basically it comes down to politics and power... although cleavage shots don't hurt.

In any organization or relationship where there is power to be had and one person who believes they want more, you are going to have politics. We witness and interact with politics every single day, and not neccesarily through the actions of liberals and conservatives on the television. When we go to the store, customer service representatives of that store will try to persuade the political power we have over our own money to spend it on an item within that store. When we drive down the street, we are in constant political negotiations with other drivers as we vie for lane position, velocity and right of way. When a person or organization has something that other people want, those other people will do anything including becoming and remaining dependent on that person or organization in order to get that valued commodity.

So what does this have to do with superheroes? Everything. A superhero has the innate ability to rise above the political structures of ordinary individuals. With colossal strength, a hero could break down barriers other people cannot. With incredible speed, a hero can run through, around and over obstacles quicker than other people can. With powers over the elements, a hero can create, mold or destroy without requiring approval of bureaucratic procedure. Every hero is his or her own political system outside the direct or indirect control of pre-existing political powers.

Take the movie Hulk for example. Here is a prime example of how superheroes are each their own political system. General "Thunderbolt" Ross is a military career officer. For his entire life he has been trained to control intelligence, military might and put a leash on anything that is not under control. Then there is the Hulk who is a massive icon of pure uncontrollable freedom. He represents individual strength, primal instinct and change. When General Ross takes on the Hulk, the Hulk represents everything that Ross was bred to control and yet cannot control because Ross can not accept the Hulk as his own political system.

This is why we flock to well-portrayed comic book movies and superheroes. We, as ordinary individuals feel compelled to break away from pre-existing political systems that tell us how to live our day to day lives and cling to the fantastic idea that we might become someone who has the power that others will go to instead of having to go to others ourselves. We envy these heroes for what they can do so easily and we want to be like them.

We can, however, become our own heroes. We can educate ourselves, we can learn how to do things, we can take control of our own lives and stop allowing other people decide what we can do with our own bodies and minds. We become heroes when we express ourselves. We become heroes when we allow ourselves to become more than we are told we are. We become heroes when we deny pre-existing organizations from telling us that we can not feel and be who we are within.

Never trust an organization that denies its people education, self-expression and the ability to do with our lives as we see fit.

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