Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Should Superheroes Run The World?

I love superheroes.
I really do.
I'm far from the first to note that they are the new gods of myth.
DC, in particular, has done a great job of doing this, connecting some of their heroes
to fundamental forces of the universe (speed, animal life, plant life, etc), and playing up the mythic nature of characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman.
Over the past few years, a number of comics have come out with stories of superbeings gaining significant power in the world, Kingdom Come and The Authority to name two.
Of course, the normal people get up in arms about it.
Part of me always wonders "why? They are saving your world, protecting you from evil, toppling dictators, etc. What's the big deal?"

Of course, the big deal is that nothing significant is ever simple.
Topple a dictator, who takes his place?
Of course, the big deal is that I can get to know these beings and understand them. They aren't mysterious, powerful creatures standing above me.
Of course, the big deal is that some force is making decisions without any real responsibility to those who will feel the effects. They are, in effect, benevolent dictators. But dictators none the less.
Of course, the big deal is that things always go wrong. The purest act of benevolence from one of these near-gods is almost always going to go wrong in the long run (try saying that five times fast.
I stumbled onto this quote by Frank Herbert that sums it up nicely:

"I had this theory that superheroes were disastrous for humans, that even if you postulated an infallible hero, the things this hero set in motion fell eventually into the hands of fallible mortals. What better way to destroy a civilization, society or a race than to set people into the wild oscillations which follow their turning over their critical judgment and decision-making faculties to a superhero?"
(Omni magazine, July 1980)

Now, if, instead of the word 'superhero', we used 'Global SuperPower'....


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