By Tony Rutherford
Huntingtonnews.net Entertainment Editor
Huntington, WV (HNN) – Faster, flying, looking, chasing… in the fantasy worlds of Gotham City and Metropolis, individuals with super powers take on the bad guys missed by law enforcement. Believe it or not, costumed (and non-costumed) heroes have emerged in various global locations performing community service, indirectly assisting the police, and helping homeless.
CNN recently featured a piece on heroes helping in hard times. Some go by comic book-like names (Mr. Ravenblade, Dark Guardian, Warrior Girl or Captain Safety ) and may wear a costume. Others may be a regular Joe or Jane. ( http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/06/04/real.life.superheroes/index.html )
What prompted the real-life superhero movement?
Ben Goldman, a real-life superhero historian, who runs Superheroes Anonymous (http://superheroesanonymous.com) , stated to CNN: “A lot of them go through an existential crisis and have to discover who they are.” He continued, as people put more value on what they can do rather than the “stuff” in the house, “they realize that money is fleeting.”
Actually, the article suggests that the oddity grew past such efforts as the Guardian Angel citizen patrols (of the 80s). Admittedly, some of those adopting such a persona have to contend and balance communication , contact, and conduct with local law enforcement officers. Some of the real people have been shot at, arrested, and rebuked. Some have been called vigilantes. Others have won respect from short handed officers who welcome extra eyes and ears.
A press release at Real Life Superheroes explains the grassroots movement of people create a “superhero identity and work in a fun, exciting and inspirational fashion to make the world a better place. They are making an impact by doing civic activities, public safety patrols, crime fighting, charity work, school talks, hospital visits, helping the needy, and more acts to serve society. They are breaking the comic book barrier and bringing the ideals of superheroes into the real world. Real Life Superheroes create living positive role models which our children are in need of. The concept of a superhero, an individual who aspires to a higher moral code which benefits society, has a psychological impact on children, both appealing to their sense of fun as well as teach them important values.”
A woman known as Terrifica patrols the New York bar scene looking out for women who had too much to drink or may be in danger of male predators. According to the ABC TV report, “I protect the single girl living in the big city,” stated the now 35-year-old single woman clad in a blond Brunnhilde wig, golden mask and Valkyrie bra.
Actually, the web contains “tutorials” for heroes including first responder basics, self defense tips, legal considerations, and an article on “arrest proofing.” https://rlsh-manual.com/Resources.html and a social network, http://answerthecall.ning.com
Not all of the would-be heroes perform community service. Some have been the stars of fan-produced films, but others have gained semi-official endorsement from states, such as Breathe Easy Man who in Chicago educates citizens about reducing pollution and cleaning the air. And, Captain Clean (Maidstone, England) became a familiar face with the approval of council managers to clean up litter hot spots, passing out leaflets, and picking up abandoned vehicles, cleaning streets and hauling bulky refuse.
More and more real-life heroes use their costumes to take on social issues. For instance, Femme Fiscale and Golden Boy (from Manitoba, Canada) ventured to the legislature to advocate for the province’s most vulnerable citizens.
One a web site, the feisty Femme argued that “tax cuts are not free. I am concerned about how this will impact people who rely on government services.” When the budget contained no funds for low income housing, she lobbied the legislature on behalf of affordable low income housing.
You can check out some of the other national and international heroes at such sites as: http://www.superheroeslives.com/reallife/femme_fiscale_and_golden_boy_(2006).htm (for which we credit use of the photos); http://www.reallifesuperheroes.org/heroes.html; http://www.theblackghost.com/wallpapers.html (a New Orleans character known as the Black Ghost who inspires non-violent conflict resolution, which is © by I.C.E. Productions); http://www.skiffytownheroes.org/pics.htm (a national network of heroes who perform acts of community service or charity work, such as Dragonheart and Monkey Woman); http://www.herosyndicate.com/index.php?title=Main_Page (which shows active heroes, costume suppliers, and news stories)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Photos courtesy of individual “hero” or “heroine” unless otherwise stated.
Who are Huntington’s Hero Helpers?
My first choice for a “hero helpers” label happens to be a young woman who uses a camera and editing equipment to better the community. Francesca Karle decided to make a movie about the homeless living on the riverbank for a Girl Scout Project. “On the River’s Edge” contained stories of the lives of people living in a shack or tent. The film was premiered at the Keith Albee and attracted national attention. In addition, Ms. Karle produced “Back to the Bottle,” a 35-minute documentary on alcohol addiction. (http://www.huntingtonnews.net/local/080207-rutherford-localfilmfestivalbacktobottle.html )
We’d like you to nominate your own, but I’ll get the non-costumed party started by adding a couple more such as:
Anonymous Attorneys: You know who you are. You have devoted countless hours to “arming” those battered and bruised in the legal system with a weapon — you have helped teach “them” procedures, methods, and shown proper forms, headings and research methods for fighting for truth, justice and the American Way. The case may not have been financially worth litigating, but you transformed their frustrated bitterness into “pro se” jurisprudence.
Rev. Bob Bondurant: With his able “sidekick”/wife, Beth, Bob has prowled the halls of Marshall University, the Campus Christian Center, beach locations, and football fields dispensing the love of God. That meant loaning students a few dollars for their date, holding a hand during illness, stressing the similarities of various denominations and religions to encourage diversity (not condemnation) , and holding a mini-service for in-town PROWLers during non-university in session periods.
Now, it’s your turn. We’d like to run a continuing series of profiles of individuals worthy of a helper or hero title, be they “on the job” or “freelancing.”
Send your two paragraph nomination (with your e-mail address) to: firstname.lastname@example.org For that matter, check out our forum and start a sub –head posting.
By Tony Rutherford