Friday, January 18, 2008

Who wants to be a superhero?

Grab your spandex pants and join the revolution, you too could be a superhero.

Our local “alternative” newspaper had a recent story that I found mildly interesting, but mostly puzzling. It was the cover story of the latest edition, although I’m not sure why.

People around the world, but primarily in the United States, have decided that it’s not enough to create a fictional world to write about online. Having a “Second Life” doesn’t keep them warm at night, either. They need to live out the fantasy of being a superhero, and they’re doing it. They don costumes, have names and in some cases attempt to keep the streets safe by roaming around, usually armed with an arsenal of simple assault weapons, such as pepper spray or batons.

These nutjobs come up with character names and custom-made costumes to live out this fantasy. Some do little more than volunteer time to service organizations while in costume, others actually try to help fight crime. I’m not sure why these folks feel it necessary to dress up like pro wrestlers to do it, but more power to ‘em, I guess.

The Minnesota connection to this cover story was two-fold. A dude who runs around in a costume wanted to volunteer at a homeless shelter or something like that, and decided doing it in costume made more sense. And a dude who learned to sew costumes for his career as a pro wrestler has tapped into the superhero wannabe market.

There’s an online forum for these goofballs to discuss their life as their alter ego, and a few of them attempted to have some sort of caucus in New York last year.

They're like clowns for the new millennium: dressed up in costumes, mentally unstable and fascinating to children. I know, not every clown is a pedophile, but if there's a "Black Arrow" or "Red Hornet" running around your city, keep your children away!

I read comic books for many years, and while I’ve often thought about how great it would be to have the power of invisibility or the ability to fly, never once did I want to pretend to be a superhero, even on Halloween. (I may have had a cheap Spider-Man costume as a kid, I’m not sure, but once I outgrew trick-or-treating, no, there was no Batman costume in my future.)

At times I look at my life and realize how meaningless it is. Thanks to “real superheros,” or “reals” as some call themselves, I can feel a lot better about my life.

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