Monday, May 26, 2014

Superheroes, microwaves and our innate need for something more (but our super inability to wait for it)

It is hugely evident there has been a giant dose of superhero injected into our media veins in the past few years.  There are more superheroes than ever and more superpowers than one could imagine.  They come in every shape, size, and color and from every planet or alter universe.  They wear cool costumes, they help those in need, they are self-sufficient, sustainable and morally sound.  There are also bad mutants, zombies and super-villains, but that is another story.

Growing up in the 70’s I was taught about heroes of the regular type; men and women who sacrificed on a personal level and made an impact on generations to come. They chose for the greater good of others rather than garner personal gain.  I learned about Abraham Lincoln, Columbus, George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman.  I also knew about contemporary heroes like mean Joe Green, Dorothy Hamill and Roger Staubaugh but  I knew there were miles of difference separating the great emancipator and the great quarterback.  About this same time I was introduced to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.  Wow, superheroes could trump them all; they were faster than a speeding  bullet, flew in invisible jets and were multimillionaire playboy philanthropist crime fighters…Superheroes were, by far, the best.

About this same time in history a new super phenomena was developing in the shadow of the superhero and its superpower was noticed by more than a few teen aged boys and sports fans. This hero of super power was not flashy, but powerful, maybe not faster than a speeding bullet, but could perform different tasks faster.  It came from an assembly line and from a box, not from a distant planet and out of the box…wait for it….this superhero was….the microwave oven.
Just like superheroes, this super appliance displaced normal kitchen heroes like the oven or the stove with its ability to heat things better, stronger and faster…  Cook refried beans in a pan in 15 minutes no way, you can microwave them in less than 2 minutes.  Wait for two hours for Mom to cook dinner, not any more, dinner was done it minutes not hours.

I know a good superhero story is a good escape, fictional and all in fun.  I’m not begrudging an evening at the movies or a weekend at Comic Con. I am merely musing at the human need for something more; we know there is greatness out there and in here too. We long for and even need heroes with powers beyond normal ability. Someone to believe in, someone to cheer for, someone with powers from beyond someone for which to aspire.  To find hero in the quick fix and short cut, may be our super-ability to miss the opportunity to become super ourselves.

I would love to be a rocket scientist, play for the Lakers and possess legendary lead guitar skills but I don’t have time to acquire them.  If I could, I may wish for them….or maybe I would wish for my own island..or to fly.  I just don’t want to work for any of them.  We are too smitten with the overnight success and miss the value of the work ethic.  For every lottery winner there are thousands of teachers and doctors making a difference in the world.  We live in the world of microwaved food, why wouldn’t we expect microwaved superheroes?  Does time make superheroes?  Not without effort, but with determination, time can make hero like Mother Theresa.
Lets face it, it is easier and maybe more fun to be an armchair quarterback or rule the offense from an X Box controller than work out, lift weights, study volumes of plays and be ultra disciplined.  In the microwave world, super heroes have powers that are cool but frivolous, jaw dropping but not completely world changing. Heroes are made from trial and error, through sacrifice and pain.
Get off the bench and into the game. Every hero works at becoming great; maybe not for the purpose of changing the world but maybe just for being the best they could be or on a mission from a higher power.

Do we settle for the microwave superhero because its expedient or because its quicker, maybe we just want fantasy?  I love to watch The Avengers with my son while eating microwaved popcorn, there is a time and a place for everything.  But after our 2 and a half diversion, it will be time to go in the back yard and throw the ball around.  There will be much more time in the back yard than in the bat cave, more time acquiring super powers from reading and studying than from being born on a different planet or getting bit by a radioactive spider, much more.
Are there superheroes that walk among us, yes, undoubtedly, but they look more like school teachers and servants than caped crusaders and animals.  They wear jeans or suits and not tights or wearable technology.  They get their superpower from God, hard work and determination; from studying and discipline.  Yes, true superheroes are made not born and greatness inspires greatness.

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