Sunday, September 27, 2009

HEROES Premiere 2009: "Anemic."

And then, there's Heroes...what's to say? It's a good time to announce my new personal statement: just because this site is called Superhero Babylon, and there's a show with the title Heroes, doesn't mean I automatically care; henceforth, I feel no obligation to blog on it. And I don't think I care anymore about this show. It doesn't wow me, it doesn't piss me off...it's just...there. As a friend of mine aptly put it, "it felt like a chore to watch." I say, "It felt like giving blood...like a sacrificial lamb." It's anemic.

The only interesting thing in the premiere was the continuation of the "Sylar as Nathan" plot, which was pretty stupid on the part of the so-called "Illuminati" of the show, but at least the consequences are there to bite them on the ass...and the idea of the "soul" of Sylar trapped in Parkman's head does provide some nasty tension...but that simply steals the focus of the show and turns it into a psychological thriller. I'll even submit that THAT is where the show excels; its strengths have been in the depiction of villains. But while great villains do help to make the hero, if the villains steal the show, then the heroes have failed. To be fair, it's not a problem specific to Heroes; it's a problem of philosophy. Ayn Rand nailed this problem in The Romantic Manifesto:
This phenomenon-the fascinating villain or colorful rogue, who steals the story and the drama from the anemic hero-is prevalent in the history of Romantic literature, serious or popular, from top to bottom. It is as if, under the dead crust of the altruist code officially adopted by mankind, an illicit, subterranean fire were boiling chaotically and erupting once in a while; forbidden to the hero, the fire of self-assertiveness burst forth from the apologetic ashes of a "villain."
If Rand hadn't died in 1981, I'd swear she was reviewing the season premiere herself. (Is Rand the new Nostradomus? Nope. "That's just the power of thinking in principles, kids.") Hiro's bloody nose and lukewarm announcement that he's "dying" is an apt metaphor for the show, and, possibly, an acknowledgment from the creators of the slipping popularity. The show's promising first season was doomed from the start to bleed internally, thanks to the inherent premise of altruism. The price of self-sacrifice is always blood. (This may be mean of me, but I have to mention it; it's an apt description of the "anemia" of the "good guys": the bleeding reminded me of "The Mad Real World" from Chappelle's Show..."oh, I'm bleeedin'!"). And her description of the "subterranean fire" describes the "Sylar" situation perfectly; the shapeshifting villain tricked into thinking he's Nathan, one of the "good guys," but starting to remember his real identity ("I am Sylar.") A self-assertiveness "forbidden to the hero" indeed!

Moral of this story? Until the real good guys figure this out, and stop offering themselves as sacrificial lambs, and as long as the villains are the image of selfishness, the bleeding will continue...

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