Opinion: Real super heroes



Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young is a senior philosophy and psychology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

I wasn’t quite sure whether I was watching a comedy or a documentary when an excited voice began narrating the rescue story of a woman being attacked while a comic-book-style cartoon played across the screen. However, the serious and sometimes funny portrayal of actual people dressing up and fighting crime slowly becomes apparent in “Superheroes,” a new HBO documentary.

Director Michael Barnett takes you on a voyage through the streets with caped crusaders and masked crime fighters. Some are odd and harmless while others are hardcore and serious. The film is quite unique in that it juxtaposes the extremes of people who dress up and fight crime.

Mr. Xtreme, Master Legend and Zetaman are just a few of the real-life superheroes featured in this documentary. Another man, who goes by the name Life, dons a black mask with a vest and tie. He hands out T-shirts and personal items to the homeless and gives them words of inspiration.

A practicing martial artist, Life is not afraid to confront drug dealers in his New York community. His sidekick, Cameraman, shoots video and audio of drug deals as the two confront dealers with a loudspeaker.

Even though the idea of seeing people running around in masks seems strange at first, the idea isn’t that crazy. The documentary shines light on the problem of police prioritization in some cities, which seems to center more on filling ticket quotas and less on combating crimes like drug dealing.

A group of superheroes see an SUV sideswipe a parked car and drive down the street. They confront the man, who is severely intoxicated and looking to purchase drugs, and they call the police to report the incident.

They had to call the police twice to get a car sent out. The squad car drove right past multiple people dressed in costumes waiving their hands. Zimmer, the only unmasked superhero, even chased the police car to no avail.

The superheroes eventually took the keys from the drunken man and agreed to mail them back. The man was able to sleep in his car without injuring himself or anyone else, but the scene illustrates a real problem.

Most of the police officers in the film are not too cordial to the costumed crime fighters, even though the superheroes are serving their community. Almost every superhero in the film helped the homeless in some way.

Today law enforcement has a bad reputation. If you are talking to a police officer, chances are you aren’t being asked if you need assistance; you are probably getting some sort of ticket.

Things weren’t always this way. Police officers were respected and revered for their service and integrity. Unfortunately, many officers today are trained to focus on small misdemeanors like speeding and nonviolent drug charges, which raise more money.

I would rather see polite and courteous police officers walking the streets, helping the homeless and concentrating on making the community a safe place instead of some strange guy in a mask. However, if law enforcement doesn’t set better priorities, we are likely to see more caped vigilantes patrolling neighborhoods across the country.