Who wants to be a Superhero?

I do! I do! The show is mesmerizing in that reality-show, rubbernecking sort of way. If you haven’t seen it, think of it as “The Apprentice” with Stan Lee, the Grand Poobah of comic book creators in the Donald Trump role, and a grab bag of the goofiest contestants in superhero costumes all edging to be the subject of his next comic book.

It’s hard to characterize the specific joy associated with watching grown men aspire to be… to be what? To be children again? No, that’s not it exactly. And of course, I’m not talking about all of the contestants here. Some of them clearly approached the situation with the attitude that it was a reality show, and they wanted to be on television, and the rest was just a matter of the details. But some clearly took the show as something different. One in particular, who goes by the name of Feedback and takes the show a little too seriously, for him it seems as if the show is something very different.

Despite everything in his adult life that has conspired to kill his childhood dreams, despite everything in the realities of a world that has clearly not given him what he wants and needs, despite all the daily compromises that have forced him into adulthood, there is a whole other part of him too, that is no longer a child but some bizarre stunted adolescent fantasy, a projection of his imagined salvation from whatever existential dilemma plagued his youth and never properly faded. Watching the show, watching his facial expressions, his reactions, his naive faith (best compared to the Dwight Shrute character on The Office), the duplicity of his life reads in his eyes. At some level, it seems as if he struggles more with his secret identity than with his superhero self.

So I watch the show. And now, like all true believers, I have begun developing my other self, in case 1) they make a second season of the show or 2) the world ever needs a costumed hero.


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