Saving the Day and Returning to Normal

If you have ever had even a passing acquaintance with a comic book, you now the template.

All is well. Then suddenly, something bad happens and throws things out of balance. The normal order of things is upset. The way of the world has gone wayward. The “day” is in peril. Then a hero appears and saves the day, restoring normalcy and ordinariness to life and all those who have it. His deeds are cheered and his bravery in the face of danger is applauded.

Here are some questions we need to consider.

a) What is normal?
b) Why is normal good?
c) What exactly did the hero do?

As things stand, normal is made of a great many social and natural constants. Not all of these constants are things that everyone is happy with. In most comic book worlds, democracy is a constant that the hero protects. Free markets are a constant as well. If we go back to the so-called golden age of comic books, gender roles are a constant as well. The hero fights to protect all of these and succeeds most of the time.

What is sold to us is more than heroics. What we are also being sold is a version of the world that is far too specific to be accurate. Imagine a Communist society where a hero is fighting off the forces of Capitalism and when he succeeds, he is cheered the same way as our golden age superheroes. Imagine a story where a hero is a praised for saving the day after he demolishes the existing governmental order because the resulting society would be an improvement on the one current one.

These stories exist. The revolutionary hero is not something that is yet to be invented. He is in most places you might care to look. As long as you do look.

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