Friday, March 27, 2009

Entertainment Weekly's HEROES AND VILLAINS

Fanboy/Geek alert! 20 Scariest Villains! 20 Coolest Heroes! Why We love them Both! This isn't just a popcorn piece, though. Some highlights from the main article at

 Nearly a century later, stories about heroes and villains have never been more popular. Kids and parents alike have been mesmerized by the literary and cinematic clashes between Harry Potter and his nemesis, Voldemort. And then there's Spider-Man, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean24Lost...even American Idol.... And yet, so many of our heroes these days are unheroic: Showtime's Dexter is a vigilnte who kills criminals, because he happens to be a serial killer. Jason Bourne is a cipher to himself who can't understand why he reflexively snaps people's necks. 24's Jack Bauer often acts like a terrorist so he can catch one. Do drastic times make for drastic heroes, like Christian Bale's Batman — or was Heath Ledger's Joker correct in arguing that ''good'' and ''evil'' are meaningless concepts? ...

 This next part is very telling of the state that has driven our heroes into exile:

The current state of heroism can be summed up in a word: Lost. Like the castaways of ABC's mystery drama, today's would-be heroes are so flawed or messed up, they need to be saved from themselves before they save anyone else. Some succeed, like Iron Man's ethically murky Tony Stark. But many others — Anakin Skywalker; the meth-cooking cancer dad on Breaking Bad; almost anyone on HBO, Showtime, or FX — find it more empowering to embrace the dark side. These characters reflect a culture that feels powerless and pissed: We desperately want good to triumph over evil, but we can't staunch our doubts that good is up to the task. ''We want heroes to know the difference between good and bad, and we want them to be strong,'' says Lost exec producer Damon Lindelof. ''However, it's hard for such a person to be accessible unless they're also extremely effed up...because only a seriously disturbed individual would want to be a hero.''

  While I disagree with that last line, the ending of this essay is spot-on:

 We need more from pop culture than just seeing good guys and bad guys in action — we need to see how they're made. 
 I'd like to think that Superhero Babylon has done its share in that goal, and we're certainly glad to see these discussions being taking seriously in the mainstream. It's a good sign that a magazine called ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY can overcome the dichotomy between ideas and entertainment.