Friday, July 20, 2012

A Time for Heroes

I've always loved cartoons, fantasy novels, science-fiction movies (and fantasy movies and science-fiction novels).  Loved them when I was a kid, love them as an adult.  Even when I get funny looks and ignorant comments about "What do you do that stuff for? Grow up already! That's for kids!" (all the while I proudly proclaim I saw The Avengers three times).  My readership (all five of you) get it.  Because you do the same thing.  There's something about believing in the possibility of magic that allows us to hope.  To hope that in the face of senseless tragedy that there are still heroes.

You've all heard by now about the shootings in Aurora, Colorado at a movie theater during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.  I've been to plenty of midnight movies.  They've become a big part of fandom - there's something special about being one of the first people to see the movie that you've been excited to see.  Movie theaters make it a big party.  The people who come are the fans.  They get the hype behind the stories and the characters.  You feel like you've found your tribe.  It's a glorious thing.

But then, some nut decides they want to ruin the whole thing and he comes in with tear gas and guns like he's the Joker or whatever.  And now, instead of talking about movie reviews and record-breaking box office numbers, we're asking How Could This Happen?  Of course, you have the requisite idiots in the media pointing fingers at the completely wrong guy and ruining his life too. Not to mention all the politicians and their minions scrambling to score political points with calls to ban this or ban that (as if banning anything's going to do any good).  All the while, you've got victims, family members, friends and the movie theater employees dealing with the horror and loss that resulted of the actions of one completely insane lunatic.

And here is where I pause and think - Where is the real-life Batman?

Think about it - the Jokers and Banes of this world are a dime a dozen.  Crazed psychos who use any reason under the sun to instill fear into people.  You see them all the time on the evening news (I think news anchors love this kind of tragedy.  It gives them job security).  And it's times like this I have a little tiny wish that Batman was real.  Or Superman.  Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Doctor, Jack Bauer - hell, I'll even take the Power Rangers at this juncture.

I'm not saying there should be some guy dressed up as a bat enacting vigilante justice on the baddies of the world.  Certainly, we have excellent police officers and military who stand in harm's way all the time and they are most definitely heroes (even this morning, officers risked life and limb to get into this crazy guy's apartment that was apparently booby trapped).  It's just a stray thought that nevertheless gave me pause this morning (and eventually became a blog post).

I don't know about other people, but that's one big reason I'm into science fiction and fantasy.  There's always a superhero or a white knight or a Time Lord or a bunch of hobbits ready to charge out against the evil people of the world.  Even if the heroes don't have a clue what they're doing and all they've got is the fact they know they're right and the bad guys are wrong - somehow, they manage to come out on top.  All the while their fans, readers and audiences cheer them on and feel safe and happy that the good guys kicked butt.

I'll be honest - this whole thing has me shaken up.  I go to midnight showings and other fandom-related things.  Shootings are supposed to happen in schools and malls and public places - places where the general populace are involved.  Not where a bunch of nerds have gathered to celebrate their nerdery.  That sounds kind of callous and naive, but that was one of my first thoughts this morning.  I feel horrible for the victims and their loved ones and I feel bad for the theater employees.  I feel bad for the filmmakers and anyone else that's going to get fingers pointed at them in the next few days because that's what's going to happen.  I want there to be a superhero (or ten) to stop these things from happening.

While there's no guarantee of a caped crusader to swoop in and rescue people from danger (and it's almost certain something like this will happen again), there is comfort to be had in stories we love.  I'm still going to go to the movies and read books with stories of improbable heroes winning impossible fights against villains that (more or less) come from the headlines of the ten o'clock news.  Because if ever there was a time for heroes - real or fictional - this qualifies.

As always, my thoughts and prayers go to everyone who was affected by this.

ETA: RandomGuy of Marvel/DC parody video fame has this to say.  I don't think I'm overstepping when I say that all of the geek community feels like this right now -

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