Moving Our Villains and Making them Heroes

I just got done reading the April solicits on Newsrama for the upcoming Comic releases and I notice a certain trend appearing – we’re really focusing on the Villains becoming Heroes.

Now that, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. I can understand it from a marketing stand point – Hey! Check it out, Lex Luthor is leading the Justice League! Spider-Man is being controlled by Doc Ock! This will be different and exciting! – issues and conventions like this will sell comic books if for no other reason than for comic fans to prove how bad the issues were *cough* Crisis *cough*.

However, I see a more disturbing trend in observing our media and our overall culture in America.

We’re doing this everywhere. TV shows like Dexter and House, take someone who would traditionally be a villain (or at least a character to despise) and transforms them in to a likeable character with heroic traits. Our Heroes are receiving the reverse treatment – I’ve never seen a Batman like the one featured in Nolan’s trilogy and Man of Steel Superman isn’t anything like the Superman I grew up watching on the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

Politically I see the same thing happening. Both the last few national and state level elections I have participated in aren’t broadcasting ‘Our candidate is awesome because of X, Y, and Z’ and are instead focusing on ‘The other guy is a traitor, polygamist, baby-eating monster.’ Our news, if we can call it that, is filled with similar spoilers.

For some reason, we’ve decided that we need to focus on our evils and sympathize with them rather than empathize with our goods. We’ve stopped embracing and encouraging our good parts and chosen to focus, instead, on nourishing our dark side.

As fun as it is to examine the dark side, I don’t want to live there and I don’t want to participate in a world that wants to move towards it. I work in Education, and my work is about hope. My writing is very similar – I focus on hope. I am not saying that my characters don’t have flaws any more than I am saying that I am without flaws; that would be unrealistic. But I don’t focus on those flaws and make them the most important part of my character or my students. If I did, I’d never be able to win.

And, in my opinion, that’s where this negativity leads to – it’s dragging us down in to believing that we can’t win. You see it all over the news and in comments sections on news sites – we can’t fight this; it’s too big, it’s too hard, it’s too powerful. The reason we can’t see our way to those victories is we’re so busy focusing on the shadow that we miss the light. Which is a shame.

There is a great deal of good in the world. A great deal. That we miss it is through our own personal choice and prejudice. It is much harder to be good and honorable and we always want to make sure and drag others down with ourselves. When we fail, we do not want to be alone in that failure – it makes us feel better.

At some point, however, we have to see beyond that and start to hold ourselves up and not drag others down. We are just as capable of pulling others up to our level as we are of dragging them down – it just requires more work. For whatever reason, that work is something that we fear and avoid. I can think of a half dozen reasons why this might be, but they’re not really for air.

I’m just trying to understand why we focus on these things when those items where we do focus on those positives and on helping each other and pulling ourselves out of darkness do so much better in our media. At least according to the numbers I can find.

Man of Steel got some 600 Million. And that’s a good take.
The Avengers got 1.54 Billion. With a B. More than twice Man of Steel. And personally, if it hadn’t been a ‘reboot’ movie, I don’t think a lot of people would have gone to see Man of Steel.
According to http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/budgets/
it is only beaten by Avatar (another movie with more light to its darkness).

These kinds of stories do sell well, and I see a lot more good in people than I do the darkness we are choosing to focus on as a society. I have to wonder if I am unique or broken somehow sometimes.

Just some food for thought. Where would you stand on that spectrum?

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