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Superman’s Dead(And We Killed Him)-From March 1st, 2011

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This column was written before the fall of Muammar Gadhaffi (this was the spelling being used in most news stories at the time, it has since been changed many times). He fell, that is certain…it is less certain if the victors were heroes.

Superman where are you now?

When everything’s gone wrong somehow?

-Genesis, Land of Confusion

This may sound absurd, but the situation in Libya has got me thinking about Superman.

I debated whether it was worth a column, but when I looked up the lyrics to “Land of Confusion” I found out that Muammar Gaddafi was featured in the original Genesis video for the song. Good enough for me.

I suppose what I am about to write will make more sense if I set a few ground rules. I believe in good and evil. I believe that there are such things as right and wrong. I do not believe in relativism. People exist on a spectrum between good and evil. No one is purely one or the other for every moment of their lives. But some people are much more of one than the other.

In the following paragraphs I will talk about superheroes and supervillains. I do not mean this in the wishy-washy “here’s some people who, if I get misty-eyed and stretch the definition, are kinda like superheroes” way either. Comparing a regular human being who does something heroic to Superman is an insult to both. It diminishes the person’s accomplishment because the superhero moniker is always tongue-in-cheek. Being a hero is enough but we don’t have superheroes. Which is a pity because the supervillains seem to be doing their best to become real.

If you had written Gaddafi into a comic he wouldn’t be believable. A revolutionary-cum-dictator, whose staff includes a comely Ukrainian nurse and a 40-member bodyguard unit composed entirely of virgins called the Amazonian Guard. If a quarter of what is written about this man is true he might as well have walked off the page. And it would be funny if people didn’t die for his insanity. Funnier still if history didn’t give us a hundred other thugs in his mold.

Powerful, evil men exist (and evil women, too) and they are all too willing to use their power for evil. And what do we have to stand against them? Where are the powerful, good men? From the ones that should fit the mold like Obama and others we get pathetic phrases. “Unnacceptable”, “Strongly condemn”, “Urge Restraint”, and a hundred other toothless varations. Not one leader with real power willing to state on record “What (insert dictator) is doing is evil. It is wrong and we will try to stop it.” Politicians who talk a big game about right and wrong, presented for once with a clear-cut example of it, suddenly unable to take a stand. Superman wouldn’t do this.

Right and wrong are things you either believe in and stand for or you never believed in the first place. Reality does not permit other options. This is not naive. Realists like to talk about hard choices. This is the hardest choice because making it means you commit to action. You commit to stopping evil people. But that WOULD be hard. So we talk about how good we’d like to be if only the world would let us. In The Dark Knight the Joker says that people are only as good as the world allows them to be. In my darker moments I think he’s right, and the fact that he’s a character in a movie just makes it more galling.

Of course I don’t really think Superman will show because he isn’t real. However badly I wish to see a news report where he stands in front of a mercenary bullet, it won’t happen.

Gaddafi is real though. Mubarak is real. Kim Jong-il is real And their evil is on par with anything Lex Luthor or General Zod could dream up. Real villains, real danger, real victims and the people with the strength to help sit back and do nothing but condemn with empty words.

Scratch what I said earlier. I’m glad Superman isn’t real because we would make him sick.

And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him

-Crash Test Dummies, Superman’s Song


Written by Colin Hodd

March 29, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Posted in The Titular Column

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