Politics, Pop Culture

politicizing villains

I retweeted this so fast without thinking it through.

If we lived in a world of superheroes and supervillains, I think it would be more like The Watchmen than the world of Marvel or DC. In other words, one can’t tell immediately if someone wants to harm or protect. The repeated phrase in Alan Moore’s The Watchmen is “Who Watches the Watchmen?” Even those who say that they are superheroes should be watched because anyone can err on the side of manipulation, corruption, and deceit.

To take it a step further, it is because of this election season I can imagine people defending a villain like Batman’s Joker. “He had a bad childhood, he’ll turn over a new leaf. He has the organizing skills, we just have to help redirect them toward better things.” I’ve heard more people make excuses for political candidates, treating them like goddesses/gods rather than like human beings. 

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If Trump is a supervillain, surely Clinton is not a superhero. In superhero movies, it’s not  those in political office who are superheroes. Although, it becomes fuzzy with S.H.I.E.L.D., which is an arm of the government and includes superheroes (Captain America, Black Widow, etc) working for them. It’s not the political conventions we should be looking to for superheroes, but for those who stand for justice, not through speeches, but by caring for the poor and the working class and shouting to the hilltops Black Lives Matter. These are the people who are overshadowed by all the talk about the middle class. 

I’m reminded of the immortal words in the song “Eyjafjallajokull Dance” by The World is a Beautiful Place and I am no longer Afraid to Die:

“Today we are superheroes, but tonight we’ll just be tired”

Perhaps the singer is tired because they realize that a true superhero does not exist and they were trying to live up to an impossible expectation. I think it’s only right not to cast this expectation of pureness/trueness on anyone either. No one is a supervillain and no one is a superhero, we’re all mixed like cyborgs with brokenness, love, hope, despair, sadness, and joy. I agree with Donna Haraway when she ends The Cyborg Manifesto declaring, “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.” We don’t need more people who think that they are the answers to our world; rather, we need people to be committed to communities of struggle, understanding that they are flawed, but something must be done to create a better world for us and generations to come.

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