In comics, we love a good supervillain. Characters like Dr. Doom, Lex Luthor and Joker are revered and beloved across fandom, even though their actions are reprehensible. As to why we love them? Maybe there’s a catharsis in seeing such freedom, power and reckless id parading about unchecked. Maybe we are facing something deeper and darker about the human condition. Something we can only defeat by exploring what it is. Smarter people than me have discussed exactly why we’re so fascinated with supervillains, but my personal hope is we love a great villain because that leads to an even greater hero.
For some people, November 9th, 2016 was the year America elected a real-life supervillain. I can see the parallels there. Much of the Trump persona is cartoonish and larger than life like Joker. His delusions of grandeur outstrip those of Doom himself. Luthor only wishes he were as outwardly duplicitous as the Great Orange One. The primary difference is in comics, the consequences of their actions aren’t as weighty or as real as those of our actual elected officials. And I don’t mean “not real” in the “comics aren’t real” sense. I mean “not real” as in Lex Luthor, before becoming president, killed hundreds of people using hard light projections but the Joker wished them back to life so it’s ok. In comics, we’ve been trained to ignore the collateral damage because everything will be fine in the end. In reality, though? Our supervillains specialize in the damage part of that term. The destruction they cause is real, and the shockwaves we feel from each act of devastation is felt for generations. In the real world we cannot assure ourselves with “everything will be fine.”
I woke up this morning with the knowledge that everything won’t be fine, and I had to go talk to my high schoolers who woke up in this same world. Eighty percent of my kids belong to at least one of the many groups that Donald Trump personally attacked, ridiculed, threatened and offended. My message to them was simple: you might be angry, you might be sad, you might be afraid, but do not allow those feelings to cloud your judgement. Look around at the human beings in this classroom, and in this school and remember that you care about them. Take care of one another. Protect one another. Do not let those who are encouraged by last nights events to victimize or bully anyone. Finally, pay attention to the next four years and decide what world you want to live in when it’s YOUR chance to make a difference.
There are activists, teachers, police officers, parents, clergy, fire fighters, soldiers, politicians and more who all woke up thinking “everything will not be fine, unless I do the work to make it so.”
Here are some folks you might support if you are looking for something to do:
RAINN: The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization
There are many more to choose from, so find the cause you believe in and help them. Like I said, we now have a great villain, let’s show him the heroes we can be.