Life Update, Musing, Rant

Real-Life Superheroes (and Villains)

Hello! Did you miss me? Weird not getting a post every day? I know it’s been weird for me, but also relaxing. I’ve had time to just chill out and not stress over finding shit to write about. Did my laundry. Got some gardening done. Went to a super villain party. You know: the usual.

Yes, you heard me correctly. I’m a member of Rex Velvet’s Social Villain’s Alliance, which had its one-year anniversary party on Saturday night, with all proceeds donated to charity, of course. Because here’s the thing: I live in Seattle, and we have a little bit of a superhero infestation. No, really–they’re called the “Rain City Superheroes,” headed by Phoenix Jones, who mostly spends his time wandering about downtown Seattle (the second safest major metropolitan area in the United States after Portland, mind you) trying to pick fights with homeless people and causing a lot of trouble for Seattle PD. In the real world, “super heroes” are a terrible freaking idea, and I am 100% on the side of reason, sanity, and donating money to charities. In short, I’m a villain.

It’s a lot of fun to read about superheroes in comic books, which is why they’ve so successfully captured the collective imagination. I’m no exception; I also love fictional superheroes. In fact, I just got home from seeing Iron Man 3, which is a thoroughly entertaining film that you should totally go see. I get it. Super heroes are cool. The idea of being a super hero is even cooler.

What’s not cool is granting a single individual the right to distribute punishment and essentially assault those who he, in his own personal estimation, believes to be in the wrong. Vigilantism looks cool when you read about Batman doing it, but can you honestly say you would feel safe living in a city where someone like Batman was allowed to run free and exercise his own sense of justice without any kind of oversight? If I lived in Gotham, I would be in constant fear of the day that I encountered the caped crusader, lest I somehow don’t live up to his half-baked ideas about what a good citizen is. Superheroes don’t ask questions and they don’t grant due process–they punish. That’s fine in a black-and-white comic book world, but not out here in the real world where everything is shades of gray. Due process exists for a reason. “Innocent until proven guilty” exists for a reason. Vigilantism is a slap in the face to the very concept of a fair trial.

People like Phoenix Jones mean well. They want to make the world a better place. I really do understand that. But the thing about people like Phoenix Jones is that they cause more trouble than they prevent. They pick fights where none exist; they provoke those who would rather be left alone; and, worst of all, they make the job a hell of a lot harder and a hell of a lot more dangerous for the city’s real heroes: the Seattle Police Department. He’s having an impact on the city, alright, but it isn’t a positive one.

Rex Velvet, on the other hand? Aside from speaking out against the well-intended idiocy of Phoenix Jones, and the fact that he cuts quite a dashing figure, Rex actually does make a difference to the community. All the proceeds from his anniversary party went to support children’s charities. He works closely with the Make-A-Wish foundation, including making a child’s wish come true by allowing himself to be “captured.” In short, he’s the villain Seattle deserves. Jones, on the other hand, spends his time wandering about downtown Seattle pepper-spraying citizens, and last year held a $10,000 fundraiser–to buy himself a new suit of armor. That could have bought an awful lot of children’s wishes (if he had met the fundraising goal, which he did not), but yeah, you’re right, a suit of armor is pretty cool, too, I guess.

Villainously yours,
M.M. Jordahl

“The Rain City Superhero movement must disintegrate. For far too long, we’ve watched as our nation buys into its childish charade, and it’s run its course.” –Rex Velvet

P.S. I actually have far less of a problem with Jones’ wife, Purple Reign. I saw her speak at Geek Girl Con on the subject of domestic abuse, and while she is severely lacking in public speaking skills, at least she has a cause that she is trying to fight for. Jones just picks fights at random and wrecks havoc.

9 thoughts on “Real-Life Superheroes (and Villains)”

  1. I dig your point about superheroes as the ultimate example of privilege, and I mean in the sense of “private law.”

    And I cannot stop thinking about Judge Dredd now. That is all.

  2. That’s what I liked about Kick-Ass. It showed the pitfalls of superheroism in the real world, although it still kind of glorified it. Thanks for this.

    1. You’re welcome! And you’re right–Kick-Ass is a great deconstruction of the superhero genre. Although it still paints Hit-Girl and Big Daddy as successful superheroes brought low by Kick-Ass’s inability, rather than demonstrating the danger that even they pose. I actually think Spiderman is the best example of what a real-life response to superheroes ought to be; even though that series paints Spiderman’s detractors as petty and wrong, the points that they make about him being a menace are actually pretty on the money.

      1. Yup, I mentioned that Kick-Ass still glorifies it a bit, specifically with Hit-Girl and Big Daddy, and says nothing of the impact of bringing a girl that young into a life of violence, which I would equate to gangs recruiting ten-year-olds to sling drugs and carry guns. I always liked how New York and Jameson saw Spidey as a menace. Way different than the endorsement Commissioner Gordon gives Batman, after all. I imagine most PDs would be really pissed with superheroes, always screwing up their collars or ruining a sting operation or blowing the cover of an undercover officer. I remember an episode of Batman Beyond where Terry blows an operation they’d been planning for years because he thought it was the real deal, and Barbara Gordon duly gave him a tongue lashing. I did like her attitude towards Batman that whole series. She’d been there, she knew what it was like to want to be a hero, but as she matured she realized how dangerous they can really be to the city and tried to get Bruce to call off his protege on several occasions. Even though Terry ended up helping more than he hurt, I still think they portray Barbara – being the former superhero she is, and therefore respectable – as a valid counterpoint to the whole “Superheroes are always helpful and awesome!” argument.

    1. The difference is between reacting to a bad situation in a positive way, versus actively looking for a fight. One is doing the right thing in a tough situation, whereas the other is looking to create problems in order to solve them, to achieve personal recognition and glory. We all have moments we’re proud of when we stood up for someone who couldn’t stand up for themselves. That doesn’t give you the right to start picking fights on the street and making more work for the people who have actually been trained to handle “the criminal element.”

      1. That’s an awfully fine hair you are splitting. If the difference really lies in the motivation of the hero it’s difficult to distinguish between a police officer, most of whom have a strong sense of righteousness and moral responsibility, and Phoenix Jones.

        1. A police officer works within a clearly structured and highly regulated system, with rules, extensive training, and accountability enforced by a socially agreed-upon legal system. Phoenix Jones is just a self-important douche bag who wants people to think he’s cool. The difference is miles wide.

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