February 25th, 2011

Woody Can't Take It

The Dark Phoenix Jones Saga

"We talking about fictional characters here.  Fictional.  Characters.  Am I getting through to you at all?"
--Holden
Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back

Evidence suggests that, as much as I dump on superhero comics in general, on some level, I do like them.  I enjoy the older stories.  I was a Captain America fan as a kid.  Mark Waid's run on The Flash is one of the best ever, as well as his take on the Legion Of Super HeroesThor The Mighty Avenger was actually pretty good.  I love Power Pack.  And let's face it -- Quantum Redshift is the classic superhero paradigm shoehorned into the modern era.  I could see myself writing some stories with the Cap or Batman or Supergirl or something like that.

That said, there is an awareness that these are just stories.  As a kid, I guess I might have wanted to be a superhero.  I don't remember, but it's such a common thing for kids, I'm figuring it has to be in there somewhere.  I used to think about trying to cosplay at cons, but rejected it when I realized my body type does not look good in spandex (just doing my part to Keep America Beautiful).  But that was just a moment of fun.  Hey, look at me, I'm dressed like whoever.  But there's an awareness that it's just pretend.  Maybe it's the logistics -- I understand that superheroes just can't exist in the modern day with cell phone cameras and Google and everything.  Maybe it's awareness -- putting on a costume and being on the side of Right and Justice does not make you invincible.  Dress up like Batman and head to Chicago's South Side and you ain't going to be around in the morning.

The current crop of superhero movies has spawned a real life trend -- real life superheroes.  There's one in Britain calling himself The Statesman.  It only took a day to learn his real identity (and I'm guessing it took a day because most of the people on the chans are stoned half the time).  The frontrunner in this regard is Phoenix Jones.  He's a real life superhero patroling Seattle, WA.  He made news and even got on CNN when his face took a pounding, but he's still out there, being a tough guy.  Folks, I'd rather trust the Guardian Angels, who are taught and trained how to deal with these things without getting arrested or sued than this.

Turns out that not only is Phoenix Jones not an isolated incident, but he's creating a sort of real life version of Marvel's Civil War.  The Wall Street Journal has a report that made my eyes bug out.  I mean, I didn't know it was this extensive.  The plot points:

*  Most real life superheroes deliver food to the homeless or just patrol, calling the police when something goes down.  No need for a costume to do that, but hey, it ain't the strangest thing I've even seen.

*  Phoenix Jones is a loose cannon and I want his badge on my desk...sorry.  Jones gets physical.  He's assaulted drug dealers and been beaten up and shot in the process.  According to Knight Owl, “For the first time, we have someone who agrees with our overall purpose but doesn’t agree with our methods. I suppose it was bound to happen, but it’s definitely a growing pain within the community. Whether intentionally or not, he’s representing the  community now, and that makes some people nervous."

*  Jones was kicked out of the superhero community.  So he founded his own, the Rain City Superheroes.  Other members include Buster Doe, Pitch Black, Blue Sparrow and Ski Man.  Jones told the press, “Handing out food to the homeless is an entirely worthy thing to do, but it’s not what superheroes do. If you’re going to drive a fire truck, people are going to expect you to put out fires. If you dress up like a superhero, people are going to expect you to fight crime… I don’t see the point in handing sandwiches to homeless people in areas in which the homeless are getting abused, attacked, harassed by drug dealers.”

*  Yes, at this point, it does sound like a high schooler's first superhero story.  And no, I'm not entirely sure some of this isn't just made up.

*  In January, the Real Life Superhero group attempted to cooperate with the Rain City Superheroes, going out on patrols together.  But that didn't last long.

*  Zetaman of RLS took it to his blog, saying, “all of us are afraid of one day someone is going to get killed and it’ll be all over… I don’t need this kind of macho crap in my life and I don’t need to prove myself to anyone, least of all to Phoenix Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement.”

Oh, great.  Nerd war at 12 o'clock.  And they actually can cause physical harm.

Maybe I should go back to denying I like superheroes.
Enchanting Mermaid

Ten Day Meme: Day Ten

Stolen from clionona ....

Day One:  Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever)
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Ten:  One confession.

It's called a parliament or a storytelling of rooks.  The reason is because the birds will land with one in the center.  After a while, one of two things will happen.  Either the birds will all fly off, or they will attack the one in the center and kill him.

This has a social analog with humanity.  When we speak our minds, we stand in the center of a parliament of rooks.  What will happen to us?  Will we say the right things and everyone moves on?  Or are we just counting down the time until the end?  This concern isn't limited to the Internet.  It happens everywhere, everyday, every time we say something.  What do we talk about?  What do we reveal about ourselves?  How much is too much?  What isn't enough?  How do we get the reaction and understanding that we want?

This is where the fear of public speaking comes from.  When you speak your mind on anything, whether just something you like or something you believe, you are putting yourself out there, risking rejection, anger, or the worst fate of all, complete and utter apathy, the judgment of other people that ultimately you are not worth anything, not even the time to try and teach the right things to.  That every time they see you, they will not see the person you are but the opinions that they don't like.

To be yourself is to risk losing human interaction.  Man, by his very nature, is a social creature.  But especially in this era of harshly divided opinion, where outrage and how much you can damage those who disagree with you have become the primary considerations, the chances of being ostracized for following your own lead, even if that own lead is to simply respect others instead of something truly offensive, are astonishing.

I'm not sure what compels me to write the things that I do.  My opinion is simply my own opinion.  Opinion doesn't change the world, people do.  I sometimes think that, if I didn't have this blog, I'd probably go crazy.  This blog helps me organize my thoughts and try to make sense of a world that spins further and further out of control every day.  It gives me a way to express my emotions, from outrage to compassion to mockery, in regards to humanity.  But it's not enough that I do it.  Otherwise, I could simply write a journal and hide it away in my sock drawer, where I would never risk anyone else reading it.  I don't just want to organize my thoughts, I want to express them.  I want to interact with other people, learn things I might be overlooking, keeping my excesses in check, and see if what I have concluded is actually feasible.  To do that, I risk offending people and being cast aside.  There are some posts where I finish typing and just stare at the screen for a moment, wondering if I really should hit the "post" button.  Sometimes, I have simply hit the back button and let my words vanish into the ether.  But more often, I do hit that button and hope for the best, that those rooks will fly away and I'll still be around to watch them.

My confession is this:  I honestly believe writing this blog is the bravest thing I have ever done.  I honestly believe expressing your heartfelt opinion is the bravest thing anyone can do.  It's the ultimate risk, with as many possible outcomes as there are people in the world.  And just taking that step, being willing to face whatever may come, is a beautiful thing and a great accomplishment.  Thank you for joining me on this ride.

Now, fly.