Archive | March 25, 2009

Costumes in Real Life: Heroes and Villains

It seems odd that twice this morning I should be reminded of the impact costumed heroes and villains have on our lives. Not in a metaphorical way, but in real blood and guts instances. Yes, actual people dressing up as comic book characters. But in these cases, some are heroes and some are villians.

jokerThe first example is not so cheery: Soldier dressed as the Joker killed in standoff. Apparently this is not the first instance since The Dark Knight was released in theatres last year in which people have sought to portray this character for their own malicious purposes. One was a young girl attacking a teacher while wearing Joker make-up. Another is a young man dressed as the Joker trying to beat up a former girlfriend’s current boyfriend. These were all located for me at this blog, and I’ve been unable to find anymore examples of comic book villians high-jacked for violent real life intentions in my own brief internet searching. But I would be interested to know if this dressing as a villian and committing real world crime is a recent phenomenon due to the increase in popularity of comic book movies, or if this has been happening since the early days of Superman.

On a much lighter and heart-warming note: A firefighter dressed as spiderheroSpiderman rescued a child in Bangkok. And in a whole other part of the world, two years ago - a young boy dressed as Spiderman rescued a one year old girl from a burning building. And a pizza delivery man dressed as Luke Piewalker came to the aid of a mugging victim in 2006.

Is this the result of comic books becoming mainstream? Of the increasingly ravenous popularity of superhero movies? Real people dressing as heroes and villians performing feats of rescue and plots of crime, not just in the United States, but across the globe..

If the result of ordinary folks dressing like superheroes and saving the lives of others, is that we have ordinary folks dressing like villians and killing or hurting others…is that a welcome trade off? Do we cease a successful element of pop culture because it encourages imitation in positive and negative ways? And how intriguing is it that we are asking this question – the same question posed by books like Watchmen and Marvels. Do superheroes create supervillians? Or are heroes a response to villians existing in the first place. Hhhmm.

What would Alan Moore think about these examples? What would Stan Lee have to say?

How about you?

Much Love, Mindy C

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