Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Real" Villains In Need of A "Real" Superhero

The fantasy life has gone too far, at least according to recent headlines here and in Ohio.

Last week the City Pages reported that being a real life superhero is finally achievable. All you need to do is hoard comic books until you turn 45, sell everything off on e-bay, and buy yourself some self-defense classes, some numchucks, a tailor-made superhero outfit, et voilĂ ! You can go enforce some vigilante justice.

Mind you, these are people who spend way -- and I mean way -- too much time
in dark places on sunny days. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Who doesn't want to escape into a fantasy world? But when fantasy turns into fetish, it should be a clue. These are special people. They are so divorced from reality that to them it actually makes sense to strap on a mask and fight crime on the streets like their favorite superhero. (They call themselves Reals.) Plus they have a whiff of the underdog to them, so they wind up on the cover of our local happer-than-thou newsweekly. (Never mind that actual superheros put their lives in harm's way every day without looking like they're striking a pose -- or breaking the law.)

It's too bad the Reals don't have a local chapter in Cleveland, Ohio. According to this morning's New York Times, a young goth couple, inspired by role-playing games themselves, decided to kick up some real-life crime. Here's the money shot:

One suspect, the authorities say, spent nine months working for an armored car company, learning its employee-shift patterns and the access codes for its safes. By the police account, he and his girlfriend waited until the Monday night after Thanksgiving, when the year’s largest receipts from retailers were in those safes, then looted them and drove to the remote hills of southern West Virginia.

There, joined by his mother, they holed up in a mobile home they had found on a scouting trip in October, and counted their haul: $7.4 million in cash and checks.

Dude! We like totally made it! Apparently the boyfriend spent so much time lost in dungeons with dragons that role playing in the great outdoors seemed like a good idea. Delicious! And by the way, I'd like to underline my favorite part about this story. In the second paragraph above we learn that the Bonnie & Clyde (& Clyde's mother) holed up in a mobile home in West Virginia while they counted their booty. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. This trio has goth cred, D&D cred, and white trash cred all at the same time. Talk about a trifecta. Oh, and the girlfriend at one point worked as a stripper, so that kind of gives the whole thing a Tarantino spin.

You can't make
up shit like this. You have to reach deep, deep down in the dark recesses of human pathology and desperation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging. I totally understand the allure of doing something spectacular with your life, of escaping the mundane. But that's why it's a good idea to have goals and ambitions, and to work for them out there in the real world. Spending years in fantasy land can distort your sense of equilibrium. Telling a good idea from a bad one becomes iffy, and it's apparently not hard to confuse yourself into believing that you can truly beat the odds. The Reals in last week's City Pages article sincerely believe that they can get the better of street villains. Really? (How long until one of them winds up dead, do you think?) And Roger Dillon -- Ohio's Clyde -- asked breathlessly upon apprehension, "How’d you get us so fast?" How indeed. It's called hubris, dudes.

These are what comic genius Mr. Deity refers to as cautionary tales,
and I'm ever so grateful for them.

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