Vincent S. Moore Presents:
I Love, No, I Hate, Um, Wait, I Don’t Care About Superheroes
A few weeks ago, I decided I needed to take my writing to another level. I’m both happy with how far I’ve come and not so happy that I haven’t gone farther with my writing. So, in addition to digging out some new projects to work up to pitch level, I’m trying to improve my overall writing ability.
Naturally, that means writing more.
One aspect of that is working on my blog (papadocabraxas.blogspot.com, in case any of you are interested) more, placing reviews and other babblings there. My plan is to blog, like so many others, about the upcoming Democratic and Republican conventions especially. The perfect thing for a politics junkie like myself.
Another tack I’m taking is learning more about writing. About a half dozen or so columns back, I wrote a series of essays on being in the comics game to win it. I wrote those as much for myself as for anybody who wanted to listen. Because, especially when you’re just starting out, one could use as many tools to help shorten the path to success and to craft as possible.
One such resource I mentioned was Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
I discovered her book years ago and read most of it. With my renewed desire to improve my craft, I dug the book out and began using it and referring to it. One of the exercises Goldberg mentions that I’ve been having great success with is freewriting.
The idea is that it is very difficult to write “cold”, to write quality prose from scratch. So one would use freewriting as a warm up exercise, as a way to get the hands and brain and Muses all lined up ready to go when the “real” writing is to be done.
I’ve been doing freewriting every day, before I write, and it’s has been improving what I’m doing. And I’ve noticed if I skip a day or a few days, it does affect my writing. Even the simple act of getting any writing done is different when I freewrite versus when I don’t.
Goldberg has a list of topics to choose from for freewritings, in case you can’t think of anything and to help your writer’s mind to begin to shape ideas right out of the gate.
One such topic is to write about a subject you feel strongly about. The catch is, no matter how you feel about the topic, you first have to write about it as if you love it, then as if you hate it, and finally in a completely neutral manner, as if the subject doesn’t inspire strong positive and negative emotions.
As a long time comics fan, I definitely love superheroes.
And so, I tackled that topic one night.
What resulted, in a much more raw form, is what you will read below.
After I finished the raw version of this essay, I read back over it and fixed just enough of the grammar to make it readable. I liked what I read. I liked it enough to think it would make a good column with some work.
And work on it, I did.
Without further ado or blathering on my part, take a read and think about how you feel about…
I love superheroes.
I mean the whole idea of beings with powers and abilities and resources far beyond those of mortal men is attractive. And that such beings would only work for the well-being of the whole of humanity is even more attractive. Through the whole history of man, we have dreamed of beings beyond ourselves. Whether it be the gods and heroes of ancient myth, or the Messiah, or the Buddha, or the übermensch, humans have always thought of higher beings springing from ourselves, to love us, to protect us, to provide for us.
I love that concept. That what limits us normals can be transcended.
The idea of being bigger than life, larger than normal. Being a different kind of normal, a different being. I wish I was a different being, one with tons of power. Powers galore. Who wouldn’t? It isn’t that superheroes don’t have problems, but what problems! Fighting intergalactic wars. Saving lives. Fighting alien invasions. The like, the whole shebang. I don’t know if I would want to be anything else in this world.
I love everything about superheroes. The whole secret identity bit, where you convince everyone around you that you are not the superhero in question. Brilliant! It sets the superhero even further apart from the common man. I guess I love most that aspect of superheroes: being different. Being exceptional. Something that Americans both desire and fear. Or loathe. Fear and loathe. Yet we admire it, are drawn to it like moths to the flame. We look at those who are different in our world, the celebrities of all kinds and quietly wish we were like them. Wishing to be a superhero is only taking the idea to another level. Wishing to be bigger and brighter and better.
Having all those powers.
Having all those adventures.
Seeing the past and the future.
Being able to crush coal into diamonds.
Being able to fly faster than the speed of light. Or run that fast.
Being able to command mysterious green, yellow, blue or white energies, being able to shape them with my will and imagination and perform feats and tricks.
And the strange sciences and technologies! Time machines, teaching machines, spaceships, superpowers in pill form, and the like. Yet keeping those sciences away from the common folk displays a different aspect of power: its responsibility to keep harmful things away from children. And adds to the specialness of superheroes.
And the magic, real change the world in a flash kind of magic. Not just parlor tricks and stage magician stuff but real magic, even better than what Gandalf can do. All the bright colors and hope and nobility and vision of the future and the present being much better than it is. Of seeing how much better we can be as people, through the eyes and deeds of these gods made human that walk among us. Denny O’Neil has it right: the superhero is the modern equivalent of the savior gods of old. If anything, given that ‘hero’ meant divinely empowered being, a superhero is or should be that and so much more.
They should be but they aren’t.
Because they aren’t., because it isn’t in the nature of superheroes to make others better, just themselves.
Why would I like or even love such beings?
You know, now that I think of it, I hate superheroes. I mean, who wants those crazy people around anyway? They are always causing tons of damage to cities and towns with their fights with each other and the supervillains. The supervillains! Would any of them be in existence if not for the superheroes? I don’t think so. And how they show us up at every turn. I mean, what good is it to build a rocket to the Moon when Superman can fly there every day? As if he were walking the dog in the park. Even these guys’ pets are gods after a fashion. And how do you function knowing there are guys and girls out there who can look through your walls anytime they want. I don’t trust the government to monitor my phone and internet and here’s some fool who can hear what’s going on in my house any time. Crazy.
I don’t see how anybody admires them. Why should you? These, these things can do everything we can’t. Yet they don’t and they don’t help us at all, not in the ways that really count.
I mean, doesn’t Superman have a science that could save the ozone layer?
Or doesn’t Wonder Woman have some kind of ray--blue? yellow? purple? purple!--that can heal people of any injury and disease?
And why doesn’t Green Lantern use that ring of his to build housing for all the poor and homeless?
I know why. Because they won’t help us. These things with powers seeming beyond those of us mere mortals won’t do the real things that could help us. We have to suffer in our dreary jobs, trying to make the ends meet, while these people are millionaires, billionaires, god-knows-how-many-anaires. They fly above us while we walk on the ground. They have equipment and machines that are the envy of everyone, while an iPod or an iPhone are the latest things, the latest gadgets we have. I don’t care about digital music and carrying my favorite songs with me everywhere I go. There are folks starving and fighting all over this planet and these so-called men of tomorrow don’t stop these things from happening. It’s not that they are powerless but that they wish to hoard that power to themselves. Why would I or anyone want to be like such persons? Or read about them?
I guess it is correct for Denny O’Neil to say the superheroes are like the Greek gods because they sure act like them. Fighting amongst themselves and using us common folk as fodder to their games, as playthings. It’s wrong and it’s sick and I don’t see why any of us should be glad to see a superhero. We humans should be able to handle our world for ourselves. And so what if we can’t? When September 11th happened, we did the best we could and it was enough. Who needed Superman to come and save the day? We didn’t. We did what it took and it’s all worked out for the best.
So I say, who needs superheroes? We sure don’t. I hate the bastards. I see just what Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis mean about superheroes. How they hold us back and keep us from having our own adventures. That they keep us from dreaming our own dreams and making the impossible possible our own way. That they are just pricks who think we are their pets.
Or is it really that way?
I can’t say for sure.
Thinking about it some more, a superhero is a superhero, no more, no less. They do what they are supposed to do, right? There is nothing that says Superman has to solve all our problems. He’s there to protect us against Lex Luthor and Brainiac and the like. Not to stop wars or end famines.
There should be a balance to the world.
Just because superheroes exist that doesn’t mean that our responsibilities as people go away. Or our dreams and goals.
I guess I don’t care one way or the other about superheroes.
They don’t bother me.
I am not a supervillain, so I have nothing to fear from them. And some guys and gals running around in tights don’t make me feel sad or glad. They don’t make me feel paranoid or envious. They don’t even make me feel insecure about myself. I mean, my wife or girlfriend isn’t secretly swooning over pictures of Superman. Or Batman. Or Spiderman. Or even Wonder Woman. I get the job done at home, whether it’s in the bedroom or the kitchen. I don’t have any desire to run across the ocean in a manner of minutes and I don’t feel envious or jealous of any person that can do that.
I am who I am and they are who they are. Period.
The existence of superheroes doesn’t bother me or affect me at all. So what if some guy wears a colorful costume and goes out to fight crime? If he wants to do the cops’ job for them or even with them, that’s cool with me. I don’t care. Right?
I mean, would you be angry at an earthquake for being exactly what it is supposed to be? Or a hurricane? No, not really. Not if you are truly mature.
Why should such a being or beings bother you? If you are the person you wanted to be or ended up being and can find happiness in that, then why should someone in bright tights bother you?
If people want to worship such characters, then let them. How does it affect you?
Maybe if you’re one of those types that wishes you could attract the attention of mobs of folks but can’t because someone brighter than you is in the room, then I can see why you’d hate superheroes.
Or if you’re one of those that gets off on the success of others as a way to distract yourself for your drab existence, again, I can see why you’d love superheroes.
But they are what they are. Love or hate is irrelevant. A fish is a fish and a superhero is a superhero. Why have strong feelings either way for a thing being what its nature says it should be?
I say live and let live. Superheroes have their lives, their adventures, and we regular joes have ours. Maybe we can’t crush coal into diamonds but we can dig diamonds out of the ground with combination of sweat and ingenuity. And we have gone to the Moon and will again someday and to Mars and beyond, without benefit of anyone else’s fancy machines or powers.
Superheroes can go their way.
And humans can go theirs.
Now, tell me what y’all think of what I wrote.
It was a change of pace and completely goofy but I liked what resulted from following this exercise. It gave me a chance to think about how some might feel in the negative about superheroes. I would highly recommend Goldberg’s book for any writers out there or anyone who wants to write as a good starting point.
Naturally, being a fan of superhero comics, I took the viewpoint that they are real. In terms of comics, I like all kinds of comics that writing the piece from that perspective might have been difficult. Or maybe not. Who knows, I may try it again from that view.
Until next time, take care.
Namaste.Vincent S. Moore
Copyright 2006- 2010 Marc Mason/Comics Waiting Room. All rights reserved