Real Life Superheroes
Originally posted: http://www.realitysandwich.com/real_life_super_heroes
By Elliot Edge
Costumed activists are engaging ideas of self and community on the online Super Hero Academy taking place this month. The Real Life Super Hero Project is inspiring others to regain not only a moral sense of self, but also engage the question of identity very seriously. It has been a longstanding problem that society forces folk to conform to a rigid identity within the socioeconomic machinations or face alienation, despite the disempowering limitations such prefabricated notions of the self offers. This is no doubt why video games, virtual communities, social networks, hyperindividualization have become the new empires: In real life, folk are doomed by their local consensus reality regardless of it’s observable stagnation, pathologies, obsolesce, and soullessness. Though these self-made heroes and heroines seem to be putting McKenna’s line, “You don’t have to be a victim of your culture,” into real world practice. We don’t and these people are the active proof.
Kevin Kelly, author of Out of Control and What Technology Wants “The major theme of this coming decade is going to be identity of self. Every time computers get more powerful they basically threaten our established understanding of our selves both in terms of who we are or who we could be…So I think the self is really going to undergo some transformation or expansion in the coming decade and we see that with like online games where the identity that people have with these personas and avatars is very intense in the sense of this being real a place that they come to for many hours a day may be realer…It’s very, very, very, very powerful evidence that our notions of self are under transition right now.”
Birthed from a half-century-old history culture of comic book culture and combining it with LARPing (Live Action Role Playing, think a Civil War reenactment only with capes and masks) with active participation in the community; the Real Life Super Hero Project takes us past the mere culture of reaction (e.g. blogging) and flings us back into action with a soul-satisfying POW! that world society has been waiting for. Though they don’t actively seek the role of vigilantism, they are true to their word do-gooders: delivering relief supplies to flood victims, bringing food to the homeless, returning lost purses, and perhaps most importantly inspiring others, especially children—life can be fun and meaningful at the same time.
Though critics may regurgitate the problem of the spectacle, the reality of our time is in the fact that most human beings in the first world have no contact with reality at all and that there world has been replaced by a conceptual hyperreality. Thus the vehicle of the spectacle is still necessary to reach sleepwalkers. As consciousness pioneer Tom Campbell has said, “If you’re going to communicate with somebody you have to start from wherever they are, not from wherever you are.” Once again, the imagination reigns supreme. As the aptly named Super Hero stated, “People would say, ‘Why do you do this?’ And I would say, ‘Well I’m a symbol and I fight apathy and all this stuff,’ but after a while I stopped lying to myself and said, ‘The reason why I do this is because it’s hella fun.’”