Superhero Or Supervillian: Is There Really A Difference?

Save the Rat White House meme featuring Superman with a banner reading "Save The Rat"

by Lynda Bryant-Work


“It’s the superhero problem. Superpowers make everything personal. Batman versus Joker. Fantastic Four versus Galactus. The Big G might be the Devourer of Worlds, but in the end he’s just a dude. Beat him and the problem goes away. But the real problems aren’t like that. You can’t solve them by hitting them. The real supervillains were people in suits who met in rooms and decided things. Destroy one and another would take their place.”  Ian McDonald

It is called “Superhero Politics.” Convince a fan base that someone is a superhero, and they can get what they want with a minimum of flack.

The problem is, superhero politics are both dangerous and poisonous.

Superhero worship compresses all the drama into one presence – only his or her actions, intentions and agenda are relevant. The whole barn may be on fire, but if the superhero saves one stray rat from burning death, the whole world praises the action. The rest of the dying animals are totally disregarded as the masses cheer for the life-saving efforts for the single rat.

Superhero politics ignore the obvious. As the superhero lauds a great win, a great economy, a great deal, the rest of the world will burn, and the losses are swept up in the ashes. The casualties are not on stage. They are ignored. It is all “reality-show theatrics” to draw attention to the superhero.

We see it repeatedly on a daily basis coming out of Washington, D.C. and the White House.

Companies are used as pawns to promote an agenda. People are used in the cheering section. The media is fed information represented as true, and then the story flips as the superhero changes the story – and calls the previous story “fake news.” It is hard to keep up with.Superhero Conservative Crusher meme

But political superheroes rule and command the attention, while those who are destroyed are merely collateral damage in the pursuit of power and notoriety.

Political superheroes can also pick and choose their winners, no matter how unethical, as long as they can claim a win and hold on to their fantasy of political power.

And wherever the superhero lands, that is where the action is. Nothing else is important as some small display will work to create the illusion of general efficacy. It boils down to smoke and mirrors.

The United States isn’t a loose corporation where “deals” should be made by a political superhero who then expects to declare bankruptcy on a bad deal that hurts everyone.

But political superheroes disregard that if they are convinced they know better or will benefit from it – even if they let the barn burn down and save only one rat.  Saving the one rat isn’t success if all the mice become crispy critters. It shows a total lack of understanding of how to put the fire out.

Political superheroes don’t care so long as they get the cheers and photo op with the rat.

They also don’t mind robbing the mice of their cheese either if it helps avoid an embarrassing headline. That is what would be called the Art of the Cheese. That’s a real deal.

Of course, everyone loves their chosen political superheroes and believes they have no flaws. Who wouldn’t want to be a superhero with superpowers.  It is pretty cool stuff.  But people need to stay firmly planted in logic and common sense.

The problem with some political superheroes and their fans is that they say yes when they really should say no.

When political superheroes are confronted with dictators, skepticism is necessary while examining the history and inclinations of the power-hungry leader. They don’t brag and identify with them or consider that their own citizens should act like the fearful victims of murdering leaders.

Political superheroes tend to think they know it all and have all the answers while disregarding those who have facts and knowledge about a particular situation. History can’t be rewritten to suit the Art of the Cheese.

As to being popular with the masses, it isn’t possible. No matter how much a poltical superhero juggles things, he can’t be everywhere and know everything. Too often, he associates with the antithesis characters for advice.

But would Batman consult the Joker? Would Captain America consult Red Skull? Superman, Lex LutherWhy would a superhero be hanging out with dictators and stabbing his fellow superheroes in the back?

Naturally poltical superheroes can’t please all the mice, especially those burned up in the barn fire, but not planning a super-strategy is a mistake, that is unless one wakes up in the morning and sets out to do their worse and fry more mice via Twitter assaults.

Given that political superheroes probably have some level of insecurity and the need to be noticed, it seems the political superhero creates desperate situations to be resolved. This phenomenon particularly affects civil servants and can lead to unlawful acts, or attacks on the media to cover up what they are doing.  But the weakness can be seen in the political superhero who needs to pat himself on the back constantly – something real superheroes don’t do. In fact, a real superhero tries to not draw attention to himself, not wanting his identity known.

This is often associated with previously failed attempts at heroism, sometimes called dodging the draft or breaking campaign promises. Superheroes may create an accident and pretend to help, or a crisis they claim only they can solve and become the savior of the day. Sadly, there is usually an abundance of factual evidence to the contrary.

The danger of falling for political superheroes is that in certain instances, they don’t really have superhuman or mystical powers, and they sometimes share the same traits as a supervillain, such as megalomania and possession of considerable resources to further their aims. They actually share some typical characteristics of real world gangsters, dictators and terrorists with an aspiration of world domination or universal leadership.

But the fact is, political superheroes were once just average men and they do sometimes fail; they aren’t strong enough. Maybe they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or maybe they want to gain wealth for themselves and just don’t care.

Maybe because of their position or office, they have a lot more power than most people, but they are just as prone to make mistakes or simply ignore the law and ethics to increase wealth or power.

It just so happens that when regular people make mistakes, it may result in a broken glass or spilled milk. But when superheroes mess up, the consequences are significantly direr. And all the citizens pay the price.

Superhero or supervillian – in politics the lines seem to get fuzzy.

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One Thought to “Superhero Or Supervillian: Is There Really A Difference?”

  1. Ellen Elmore

    Donald Trump thinks he is a super hero. He perfectly fits the description you wrote even though you never used his name. Thanks for sharing this. It was both funny & sad.

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