Thursday, April 03, 2008

Superman has a Message for Peter Petrelli




And that goes double for Clark on "Smallville". If there is anyone left watching that show that seriously believes that the version of Clark Kent on that show can POSSIBLY become any version of Superman that we've seen in any other medium, then god bless you, because I can't see it.

If I might expand my commentary beyond the limited confines of the funnybooks for a moment, can I just say what a shitkicking the very concept of heroism has received in our cynical age? I mean, have we become so debased that we don't even know what it looks like? Heroes and Smallville strike me as two glaring examples of how bad it has gotten; Heroes has exactly one character that I think meets the classical definition of the term: Hiro (yeah, inspired isn't it?). The rest are reluctant type heroes at best, and others are taken to be deluded or self-interested. Even those with generally good intentions (such as Hiro) are treated as being naive, foolish, and idiotic. Meanwhile, Peter Petrelli, whom is supposedly "the best of us" is self-absorbed, emo brat of a human being that I find completely unrelatable in any fashion. Yet, the writers keep trying to simultaneously force the notion that he is "The Hero" of the show will heaping angst on him (Notice now how he's managed to destroy the life of every woman he's involved with? Woot! He's like Spider-Man! Joey Quesada Approves!). And the less said about Smallville, the better.




It just doesn't fit for me. Maybe because in my own life, I've seen and met people who embodied heroic qualities. My family, teachers, people in my community; people who genuinely and unironically stood up for SOMETHING, even with the odds hopelessly stacked against them, but felt that they couldn't back down because they knew that SOMETHING WAS AT STAKE. Their struggles were rarely easy: They had to face mindless bureaucracy, apathetic crowds, and even hostile and powerful people determine to crush them. It wasn't even a question of "winning", it was a matter of principle; to them it was whether they could face their families with the basic human dignity of knowing that they were true to their beliefs and that they could claim honestly and humbly that they fought the good fight. These were people who tried very hard to set an example for others, and they worked selflessly to try and raise the bar for others to aspire to.

Are we so devoid of any kind of genuine empathy for others, or do we simply feel it is too hard to set bars for ourselves, and instead to pick apart the weaknesses (genuine or otherwise) of others? Me, I'd rather spend a lifetime trying to work for the betterment of everyone and live modestly than to attain the highest levels of wealth and power but without any values left to my name. And just once in a while, I would like to see more of that reflected in the fiction in my mediums, and it is becoming increasingly rare. So now and again, when I'll find it (as I have with Geoff Johns' recent Action Comics Arc; hey, this may be the Fan Fiction era of comics as Alan calls it, but every once in a while, there's at least good fanfiction), I'll celebrate it. And I hope you'll join me.

Heroes inspire us

Heroes challenge us to do better

Heroes make us believe

Heroes set the example

Heroes try every day

Heroes may not always win, but they never chose the easy way out.



(Edited to ADD: Sorry, I should probably explain this part a little better for those of you not following Action Comics. The guy on the receiving end of that roundhouse is Earth Man (formerly Absorbancy Lad) whom was a rejected applicant for the Legion of Superheroes. He has the power to copy the abilities of any and every superbeing he comes in contact with. In the course of this story, Earthman here has become a thinly veiled human supermacist whom has terrorized the entire planet and gone after the Legion for his rejection. He spends a lot of time whining about how he didn't get his chance and how he deserved it. I found the whininess combined with his powerset to be very evocative of Peter Petrelli form Heroes, so to me it's a metaphor. Your mileage may vary.)

7 comments:

Ezanee said...

Hi! I stumbled onto your blog after following the link on mightygodking's comments. I have to say, well-written piece on heroism, Michael.

And I agree, Peter Petrelli is a grade-A whiney idiot who cannot grasp how awesomely he could help everybody. Given the way Season 2 was rushed and written, they should have spent more time making the characters do more heroic stuff, instead of continuing the Season 1 style of storytelling. Wasted opportunity, man..

So you're a grad student in Mechanical Engineering, huh? That's cool. I am hoping to do my masters in aerospace, myself. I did mechanical/aerospace for my undergrad.

Cool blog, you don't mind if I add you on my reading list, do you? Thanks mate..

Bjorne Wilde said...

I whole heartedly agree. Peter has been annoying me nice the first season. He always has a half surprised, half pout look on his face. I seriously expects to hear him whine every time he said something.

I do wish to add that I like Monica Dawson, aka "the Task Mistress", from the second season. She is like a young Spider-Man. She is loving her power and playing with it.

I hope they use her more and have her mature into a hero and not give her some sort of half-assed "drama".

MrCynical said...

Thanks for the comments, both of you. Tell your friends and keep coming back, k?

ezanee- good luck on your work. I've got a bit of aerospace background, and I know you are in for a lot of hard work.

bjorne wilde - I'm a little "bleh" on Monica. Her Freaking out at the end, while realistic, was kind of a copout after all the time built into making her a badass.

Pearl said...

Got randomly linked here, but I agree whole heartedly. It really makes me think of the designated hero tv trope. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DesignatedHero
It seems to becoming more and more popular these days.

Rubaiyat said...

You, sir, are the Obama of comics fandom.

Me, I'd rather spend a lifetime trying to work for the betterment of everyone and live modestly than to attain the highest levels of wealth and power but without any values left to my name.

You give me hope. =D

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