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Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans


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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

But here's the rub: most of the time who does and doesn't get superpowers is something of a cosmic crapshoot' date=' and when you realistically assess the decent people vs. douchebags ratio in the world, it's a safe bet any true heroes that emerge from the lot are going to have their work cut out for them big time.[/quote']

 

I guess we don't need to ask where you stand on the cynicism scale with non-superhumans...

 

My own view on this thread is that the comments in general are focusing too much on how governments will portray superhumans and not enough on the media's role.

 

If we apply "real world" celebrity culture to the comic books, you'd see a lot of paparazzi shadowing their every move - staked out 24/7 around the HQ, following them from the fight scenes via car and helicopter, doing whatever they could to discover the hero's secret ID if they have one. Heroes who don't have megascale flight, teleportation, or good invisibility powers may find it hard to ditch the crowd. And with the proliferation of camera phones, expect everything to be recorded. No one's going to care about the Daily Bugle photos when they can watch the entire battle on YouTube.

 

Also, like the current campaign trail, every utterance will be scrutinized. A single comment that was meant to be "off-mike" could do a lot of damage to a hero's rep. Talking heads will pounce if they sense that the hero is a right wing fascist or simpering liberal, depending on their own biases. Blogs by and about supers will be heavily read items.

 

On the plus side, there would be ample opportunities for celebrity endorsements, paid appearances, etc. I'm thinking that the Captain Amazing character from Mystery Men might not be far from the truth for some heroes.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

So after reading through this thread I want to post a bit about the Marvel of the late 80's early 90's. On a high level I think they had a good mix from my understanding. Super powered beings as a whole were accepted to some extent. Natural mutants suffered from hate groups and some politicians in the US. Other countries had other policies. Some supers were famous and beloved for the sheer fact they had powers while others were scorned for the same reason. Paramilitary groups had evolved to meet the growing number of supers. Granted I don't think there was too much focus on laws and regulations, with the exception of some X-stories.

 

On the subject of realism, some comments were kicked around earlier about Aberrant. I remember reading this setting and thinking wow, that's a nice spin on people gain super powers. Although some of the stuff listed in the book as just as silly as Krypto the Superdog or whatever the name was, see the magic substance to make supersuits for the most part I thought that tried to take the genre in a different spin, especially for the time it was released. That said, it was still super heroes, they made sure to include super spandex and it had it's merits if they wanted to make a comic.

 

Another good "realism-spin" is the Wild Cards series of books. Again you have a global introduction of super powers and the books, well the first book at least focuses on how society evolved around them and how people who gained powers lives changed.

 

One of the strong points in this thread I believe is the introduction of superpowers. When you're first major introduction to supers is Captain America, enlisted man or Superman, embodiment of Truth and Justice it is sure to slant the popular view. This is something I used in my own world crafting to help explain some of the comic book standards of things supers can get away with.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Which reminds me, I think the thing most Iron Age writers forget most readily? Governments, and corporations for that matter, aren't nameless faceless entities that exist entirely in their own right. They are made up of *people*, who are in fact still *people*. Writing a government as deciding that its going to respond to superhumans appearing by killing them all, requires writing that a large proportion, if not the majority, of the people composing that, from the Executive at the top down to the cop or soldier doing the shooting, believes that this is a good idea, or at least good enough to be worth acquiescing to when so ordered.

 

Way too often, writers assume that, 'becuz guvnment iz ebul!', a government will decide, in some nebulous manner, to commit some horror, with somehow *no one* in the entire hierarchy having any ethics or morals whatsoever, despite no hint that those composing it were anything other than ordinary people. Authority can get people to do awful things, but not *that* easily and casually.

 

Except that these writers have a precedent in post-WWI Germany. Yes, because the Nazi's existed, one hopes that someone in that chain of command will realize the similarities and go "wait, is what I'm doing moral?", but when you have the precedent of a group of otherwise ordinary people carting other otherwise ordinary people into ovens or gas chambers due to their religious beliefs, it is quite reasonable to write up otherwise ordinary people having a similar response when faced with very obviously not ordinary people.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Except that these writers have a precedent in post-WWI Germany. Yes' date=' because the Nazi's existed, one hopes that someone in that chain of command will go "wait, is what I'm doing moral?", but when you have the precedent of a group of otherwise ordinary people carting other otherwise ordinary people into ovens due to their religious beliefs, it is quite reasonable to write up otherwise ordinary people having a similar response when faced with very obviously not ordinary people.[/quote']

 

Precedents rooted in specific socio-political and cultural realities don't map well to other cultures experiencing different socio-political realities. While there is a baseline of human nature, writers who sit around citing precedents like the nazis without bothering to provide anything more than "the nazis did it" are not only being lazy, but insulting their readers. Additionally, "quite reasonable" doesn't necessarily follow. You would have to deal with the emergence of superhumans and their tangible impact on society and culture before making that assertion. The problem with a lot of comic writers is that they don't bother to create a milieu where that assertion follows. They presume a world identical to our own, provide no catastrophic events surrounding the emergence of superhumans, and even provide a world in which some supers are actually very popular - or in the infamous marvel disconnect: only applied to one source of super-powers (mutants), but not others (people often more powerful than the average mutant).

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Precedents rooted in specific socio-political and cultural realities don't map well to other cultures experiencing different socio-political realities. While there is a baseline of human nature' date=' writers who sit around citing precedents like the nazis without bothering to provide anything more than "the nazis did it" are not only being lazy, but insulting their readers. Additionally, "quite reasonable" doesn't necessarily follow. You would have to deal with the emergence of superhumans and their tangible impact on society and culture before making that assertion. The problem with a lot of comic writers is that they don't bother to create a milieu where that assertion follows. They presume a world identical to our own, provide no catastrophic events surrounding the emergence of superhumans, and even provide a world in which some supers are actually very popular - or in the infamous marvel disconnect: only applied to one source of super-powers (mutants), but not others (people often more powerful than the average mutant).[/quote']

 

Yes, the current political climate and culture must be accounted for. And, the persecution of Mutants with pretty minor powers but acceptance of cosmically powerful godlings is not something I ever understood. I was just referencing Metaphysician's assertion that it was unrealistic that a government will "...commit some horror, with somehow *no one* in the entire hierarchy having any ethics or morals whatsoever, despite no hint that those composing it were anything other than ordinary people." Yes, Germany was in a terrible situation after the Treaty of Versailles, and this opened the door for Hitler to prey upon the people and convince them everything was somehow the fault of the Jewish people. And the homosexuals. And the Mormons. And the Jehovah Witnesses. And, And, And.

But all of these people were still ordinary in their abilities. How much easier would it be to convince people all their ills are due to people that are so obviously different as to be effectively non-human? How easy to convince people that those who can fly, or fire energy from their eyes, or pass through solid rock, or take over your mind, that they were actually sub-human, a threat to not only the current way of life, but to the future of mankind as it is currently known? And what would people in this situation do?

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

On the other hand, consider that the pre-WWI Germans had never had crimes of that scale as precedent for their own moral compass. Presumably, remarkably few of them thought that Hitler was about to do that. Before the Nazis and the Communists, there had been examples of genocide, don't get me wrong.

 

But not on that *scale*, or involving that level of horror afterwards.

 

These days, being compared to the Nazis (or the KKK) is a bad thing. Back then, being a Nazi meant you were for the glory of the Fatherland and a member of the group that was taking your nation from pissant has-been to superpower in the space of 10 years, while the rest of the world wallows in economic misery. It was also a world where racism (and raging anti-semitism) was perfectly acceptable - consider the politics of Charles Lindbergh, a national hero. These days, not so much.

 

So while the argument that the actual differences could change things is still valid, there's a lot more inertia to overcome.

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Re: Realism vs cynicism The world's reactions to superhumans

 

Since this thread made its original rounds, I've seen a few articles online about "Reals" -- people who go out in real life, dressed as superheroes, and help people. Some of them have the intent of literally fighting crime, while others do simpler things like help motorists in distress, visit sick children in hospitals, make public appearances, and things like that.

 

The general attitude from the public seems to be: "These people are nuts, but they're really nice nuts, and they're ours, and for the most part we're glad to have them around." As Von D-Man suggests, actual opinions vary, but this is the general average from what I've seen.

 

And the crazy opinion is probably more reserved for the dressing in costumes and those seek violent confrontation more than just helping people in a selfless manner.

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