Posted on September 1, 2015



While at the conveyor belt waiting to greet our luggage from what must have been an arduous journey, a mother quells her tired and impatient child by pushing a toy into his hands. He excitedly grasps the plastic figurine with his tiny palms and thrusting it through the air makes his caped companion ‘fly’ – no doubt off to save his world from some bad guy or the other.

With plastic triceps bursting from acrylic seams, these masked crusaders avenge justice in its most naïve form, and against an equally vague definition of evil –the thief, the bully, the power-mad bent on world domination, etc; the only villains our children know of, absorbed through awe-stricken eyes from the pages of comic books and superhero film franchises.

The problem with these ‘super heroes’ is that they are a capitalistic product with economic returns. The more immortal the character, and as a result celebrated, the greater its appeal. Unaware of this other (read primary) agenda, all our children are made to understand is that if you want to save the world you must have this cosmic attribute, unrealistically large biceps and a pencil for a waist – an unfortunate deception that deters hopefuls from feeling like they can actively better society themselves.

She can never be Ms. X, and he will never be Mr. XY.

It just so happens however, that the criminals of today aren’t as clear cut as in their action figurine moulds, and as a result what defines the term ‘hero’ has to correspondingly change.

Rather laud the whistleblower risking all to unearth disparity and the witnesses of injustice who decide to speak up, seeking retribution from more ideological nemeses – the media magnate spinning stories from the threads that fill his money bag, great multinationals wringing out economic gain through the sweat of children, the bigot, the cyber bully, the sexual predator, the heads of state turning a blind eye to human suffering, the plunderer of lands and the oppressor of men.

Sans spidey senses and bat signals, the real-life, present-day superhero comes armed with a moral compass acute enough to recognise the white lies that mask their arch enemies to reveal the evil lesser known. Today’s superhero is expected to be much more discerning and considerably more valiant.

Today’s superhero could be your daughter. He could be my son.

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