Fifty Fights, Two Hours and Ten Lessons

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In one of my very favourite books of all time, there is the immortal line: “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?”

On Friday the 25th of July, I lined up with dozens of brown and black belts to fight fifty fights of two minutes as part of the long journey to black belt at our yearly Randori challenge. Attendance is compulsory for those who want the coveted black belt, and those who are grading candidates wore white belts to signify as much.

Randori is free-fighting, the opportunity to apply the techniques displayed and hidden at all levels of kata. It is a way to explore the facets of a martial art. In Goju Ryu, it is the study of hard and soft attacks, circular versus straight, evasive versus direct. It is not bouncing, points-allocated bullshit tournament fighting. There are no points, no medals and no applause. This is martial arts boiled down into one clear goal: pressure test your knowledge and yourself.

After a lesson covering some of the basic principles, gumguards were shoved into mouths and half-gloves pulled on. We lined up, the timers began, and so went 100 minutes of fighting. Here are ten things I learned while getting the shit kicked, punched and thrown out of me. Take them as dojo advice, or life lessons – I think the two are inseparable.

1. Cover your goddamn face

You know, this seems really obvious and yet not always so easy to enact. It is easy to be distracted by a kick to the thigh, a feint to the left. Hands come down, punch lands on mouth (or worse, nose) and the lesson is repeated over, and over, and over. Covering your face on the mat is like covering your metaphorical ass everywhere else in life. Forget this rule at your own, stupid risk.

2.  Things don’t hurt as much as you think 

I must have been kicked in the stomach at least twenty times. I got picked up and hurled to the ground, had seasoned black belts (who have as many years training under their belts as I’ve spent being alive) pin me to the floor and fetch punches into my head and sides. I got knuckles to the eye, a punched sternum, bruises up and down my shins. And yet, within minutes the pain would fade away, whether due to adrenaline or as a testament to the finely honed control of others. The shock passes, the throb quietens down and look, you can lift your fists again and keep going. It’s not the end of the world to take a few bumps and bruises.

3. This too will pass

There are some people are genuinely terrifying in their strength and technique. There were fights where two minutes felt like ten, where I was backing away and trying my hardest not to cry into my dirty, sweaty gi. But those fights passed, and I survived. No fight lasts forever – nothing really does, and while its hard to remember that in the heat of a bout, it is still worth etching into the back of your eyelids.

4. Sometimes, size matters…

The six foot guy with biceps the size of watermelons will have an advantage. The woman with longer arms and the teenager with bottomless energy will keep coming at you like a hive of wasps. There were many times when being a five-foot, six-inch runty, bowlegged, uncoordinated idiot like me was physically outclassed. And most of the time, we are not perfect physical specimens, and there will always be someone bigger, better and faster.

5. …and sometimes, it doesn’t. 

I can run for three hours, non-stop. At the end of the fighting, I could keep going because there weren’t many fitter than me. The tireder they got, the sloppier they got. I, on the other hand, had energy and lung capacity to spare. Being able to hit hard means nothing when I’m not there when it lands.

6. It’s not the size of the dogtumblr_m0ud4n15ra1qah1qoo1_500

I know it’s a cheesy old saying, but the size of the fight within matters so much. Not to say that indomitable spirit will always carry the day, but you’d be amazed how many people shrink in the face of a relentless energy. My Cypriot yaya may often have somewhat dodgy advice, but she did wisely say once “we’ll see who gets tired first”.

7. Even if you don’t give up, you’ll still lose

It’s the most bitter, shitty pill to swallow. We’re all protagonists, but there’s no one pulling strings and deus ex machinas to make sure we always win. You can train the hardest, go to the most classes, be unrelenting and read all the books, and still get your ass handed to you by someone who is just that little bit more talented. Intention isn’t enough to win, no matter how far it carries you. And fighting people from all kinds of backgrounds, of all kinds of sizes and all kinds of spirits is enough to remind me that for all my book-learning and hours in the dojo, I am still not as good as I think I am.

8. Use what you have, not what you wish you did

I have a relatively wide knowledge of techniques gained from cross-training across four martial arts. I have cardio and stamina. What I don’t have is reach, precision and strength. My biokineticist explained to me that some of my muscles are carrying a third of what they should be able to. I have a hip defect that I was born with and will have to manage for the rest of my life, lest I end up with a hip replacement at 35. I am a weak, slow and uncoordinated idiot. But what I can do is tire someone out, spot the gap and try to put the right technique in there. To be sure, I would almost definitely lose a street fight, but this isn’t about that one fight that may never happen (and I hope it won’t). This is about knowing exactly who you are, and where you stand. 

9. Fear will bury you alive

There is one redeeming passage from the tiresome, endless work that is Dune, and has been beautifully illustrated by Zen Pencils.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Randori is a calculated risk. It is a relatively safe arena to explore your limits. It is not a street fight in a dirty alley, or a hijacking, or a natural disaster. But holy shit, going up against fifty people is still terrifying. It still scares me when I stand opposite a Sensei, someone who has immense technical ability and the strength and power to implement it. Everything I know pales in that fear. My entire purpose is focused on one point – to evade, and evade, and evade. I forget everything. I panic. I make stupid, stupid mistakes. My own Sensei is one of the fittest people in Africa (for reals, she represented South Africa at the international Crossfit games). She has been ranked in the top ten best karate-ka female fighters in the world by the World Karate Federation. She is fearless, she is strong and she is one of the very best at what she does. (She will deny this, probably, but we know how frighteningly strong she is). Then you get me. I get graded out of pity, I’m sure. See above point about what I can and can’t do, and the latter category is far bigger.

How can I not be terrified? And terrified I was. But the best thing I could have learned was how to at least put the fear to work, rather than letting it white out my vision and tremble my limbs. Sometimes, I succeed. Sometimes, I don’t.

Fear makes sense, but letting it rule you doesn’t.

10. This is still the best thing to do on a Friday night

At nine o clock, we finished. I was wrung out, and bruised, and a bit shaken. I pulled out my disgusting gumguard, hugged my fellow dojomates and helped pack away the mats. And at the end of it all, in spite of all the fights I barely finished, the ones I wished I’d done better in, I could still be proud. I landed many, many hits. I was not severely injured. I learned so much – not just technically, but about myself. Things I sometimes forget, in the miasma of work and life. That under this clumsy, nerdy, occasionally well-dressed exterior there still lies a Spartan’s spirit. That primal fear can spur better fighting, if it doesn’t drag you under first. That fighting, the siren song of strength and exertion still beckons me. That working physically hard and learning more about this beautiful art is still a fine, fine way to spend a Friday night. That being pushed hard is better than lazing on the couch. That everything being a martial artist involves – sacrifice, self-reflection, physical endurance, mental agility, humility, courage – is worth all the missed parties, easy nights at home, Saturday braais. Being forced to truly look at myself, at who I am under fire, is not comfortable. To know that I am in ways a coward hurts, a little. But not allowing that cowardly fear to make a final decision is an achievement of itself.

There are many ways to spend a Friday night. Spending it with fellow martial artists in the crucible of randori is definitely the best.

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This is Your Revolutionary Reading

Today, South African media is taking to the streets to protest the battering-ram speed of the Secrecy Bill being pushed through. In my heart, I want to believe that this will get stomped on by the Constitutional Court but it seems far too audacious to hope for that much right now. At the least, we can be sure that alternative media and the Internet will continue to be sources of information, and there’s too much traction against this for it to go forward. Compared to the apartheid era, with a mostly compliant white population and a completely disenfranchised black population, this Bill will have to go up against ten of millions of South Africans with voices. I hope that it will be enough.

It makes me think about books that are influential to this kind of mood. Besides the obvious 1984 by Orwell, there are hundreds of titles dealing with revolution, history and protest. Below are some of my favourites:

One No, Many Yeses, by Paul Kingsnorth

A manifesto, an investigation, a travel book: an introduction to the new politics of resistance which shows there’s much more to the anti-globalisation movement than trashing Starbucks. It could turn out to be the biggest political movement of the twenty-first century: a global coalition of millions, united in resisting an out-of-control global economy, and already building alternatives to it. It emerged in Mexico in 1994, when the Zapatista rebels rose up in defiance of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The West first noticed it in Seattle in 1999, when the World Trade Organisation was stopped in its tracks by 50,000 protesters. Since then, it has flowered all over the world, every month of every year. The ‘anti-capitalist’ street protests we see in the media are only the tip of its iceberg. It aims to shake the foundations of the global economy, and change the course of history. But what exactly is it? Who is involved, what do they want, and how do they aim to get it? To find out, Paul Kingsnorth travelled across four continents to visit some of the epicentres of the movement. In the process, he was tear-gassed on the streets of Genoa, painted anti-WTO puppets in Johannesburg, met a tribal guerrilla with supernatural powers, took a hot bath in Arizona with a pie-throwing anarchist and infiltrated the world’s biggest gold mine in New Guinea. Along the way, he found a new political movement and a new political idea. Not socialism, not capitalism, not any ‘ism’ at all, it is united in what it opposes, and deliberately diverse in what it wants instead — a politics of ‘one no, many yeses’. This movement may yet change the world. This book tells its story.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

In short, V, the eponymous character, sets out to cripple and destroy the government of his day. Voted in by a terrified public after a nuclear war, the fascist Norsefire runs the country in an ongoing battle against anyone who isn’t white, heterosexual, Christian and obedient to the invasive machine. With the Eye, Ear, Mouth, Nose and Finger working as branches of the government in the constant surveliiance and abuse of the citizens, V begins his vendetta against the people who started this terrible regime. Along the way he rescues Evey, and she becomes complicit in his work. An orphan who has been battered by the regime, she becomes more than just V’s stray; she becomes instrumental.

Fight Club by Chuck Paulahnuik

You are not your bank account, and you are not who you tell yourself you are.

 

 

Take it Personally: How Globalisation Affects You by Anita Roddick

An extraordinary book from outspoken business leader Anita Roddick that brings together some of the most prominent of authorities on globalisation (including Susan George, David Korten and Naomi Klein), taking a hard-hitting look at the myths and reality behind this phenomenon that affects us all, and showing us how we can all fight it. Some of the leading names in the globalisation debate have contributed to the book, including Naomi Klein, Susan George and David Korten, as well as organisations and charities such as the Rainforest Action Network.

The book deals with a diverse range of the issues surrounding globalisation, including human rights, the environment, international trade and finance, health, the food we eat and the clothes we wear.

‘Globalisation is the most important change in the history of humankind, and the latest name for the conspiracy of the rich against the poor. It is the phenomenon most subject to the efforts of economists and statisticians, and the least understood and measured change in our time.’ Anita Roddick

Toxic Sludge is Good For You by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton

Toxic Sludge is Good for You explains exactly how the magic of modern PR transforms the favoured policies of the rich and the powerful into uncontroversial common sense. It is without doubt the most important book about the methods and objectives of corporate public relations ever published. Reading it will make life for the executives at Hill and Knowlton, Ketchum and Barston-Marstellar a little bit more difficult. And that can only be a good thing.

Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

Around the world in Britain, the United States, Asia and the Middle East, there are people with power who are cashing in on chaos; exploiting bloodshed and catastrophe to brutally remake our world in their image. They are the shock doctors. Thrilling and revelatory, The Shock Doctrine cracks open the secret history of our era. Exposing these global profiteers, Naomi Klein discovered information and connections that shocked even her about how comprehensively the shock doctors’ beliefs now dominate our world – and how this domination has been achieved. Raking in billions out of the tsunami, plundering Russia, exploiting Iraq – this is the chilling tale of how a few are making a killing while more are getting killed.

Media Control by Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky’s backpocket classic on wartime propaganda and opinion control begins by asserting two models of democracy—one in which the public actively participates, and one in which the public is manipulated and controlled. According to Chomsky, “propaganda is to democracy as the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state,” and the mass media is the primary vehicle for delivering propaganda in the United States. From an examination of how Woodrow Wilson’s Creel Commission “succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population,” to Bush Sr.’s war on Iraq, Chomsky examines how the mass media and public relations industries have been used as propaganda to generate public support for going to war. Chomsky further touches on how the modern public relations industry has been influenced by Walter Lippmann’s theory of “spectator democracy,” in which the public is seen as a “bewildered herd” that needs to be directed, not empowered; and how the public relations industry in the United States focuses on “controlling the public mind,” and not on informing it. Media Control is an invaluable primer on the secret workings of disinformation in democratic societies.

New Rulers of the World by John Pilger

John Pilger is one of the world’s most renowned investigative journalists and documentary film-makers. In this fully updated collection, he reveals the secrets and illusions of modern imperialism. Beginning with Indonesia, he shows how General Suharto’s bloody seizure of power in the 1960s was part of a western design to impose a ‘global economy’ on Asia. A million Indonesians died as the price for being the World Bank’s ‘model pupil’. Ina shocking chapter on Iraq, he allows us to understand the true nature of the West’s war against the people of that country. And he dissects, piece by piece, the propaganda of the ‘war on terror’ to expose its Orwellian truth. Finally, he looks behind the picture postcard of his homeland, Australia, to illuminate an enduring legacy of imperialism, the subjugation on the First Australians.

The Silent State by Heather Brooke

Award-winning investigative journalist Heather Brooke exposes the shocking and farcical lack of transparency at all levels of government. At a time when the State knows more than ever about us, Brooke argues that without proper access to the information that citizens pay for, Britain can never be a true democracy. Silent State is a groundbreaking and important book, which should be read by anyone who wants to know how Britain really works.

Confessions of An Economic Hitman by John Perkins

As an Economic Hitman (EHM), John Perkins helped further American imperial interests in countries such as Ecuador, Panama, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. As Chief Economist for the international consulting firm Chas. T. Main, he convinced underdeveloped countries to accept massive loans for infrastructure development and ensured that the projects were contracted to multinational corporations. The countries acquired enormous debt, and the US and international aid agencies were able to control their economies.

He tried to write this book four times but was threatened or bribed each time to halt. The events of 9/11 – a direct result of the activities of EHMs in the 1970s – finally forced him to confront the role he played himself, and to reveal the truth to the rest of the world.

Counterpower by Tim Gee

No major campaign has ever been successful without Counterpower – the power that the ‘have-nots’ can use to remove the power of the ‘haves’. This is examined by investigating the history and tactics of the suffrage movement, the labour movement, the anti-war movement, the anti-colonial movement, the environmental movement and today’s human rights and anti-globalisation movement. In the context of the financial crisis and the threat of climate change, engagement in system critical social movements is on the increase. This unique book demystifies the power dynamics of social change.

V for Vendetta Retrospective

As the world watches the growth of the Occupy movement and its often attendant V-masked protestors, it is a good time to look at and discuss the V for Vendetta graphic novel, and whether it is still relevant nearly thirty years after its publication. (There’s a fascinating article here in which David Lloyd discusses the meaning of the mask in further detail.)

In short, V, the eponymous character, sets out to cripple and destroy the government of his day. Voted in by a terrified public after a nuclear war, the fascist Norsefire runs the country in an ongoing battle against anyone who isn’t white, heterosexual, Christian and obedient to the invasive machine. With the Eye, Ear, Mouth, Nose and Finger working as branches of the government in the constant surveliiance and abuse of the citizens, V begins his vendetta against the people who started this terrible regime. Along the way he rescues Evey, and she becomes complicit in his work. An orphan who has been battered by the regime, she becomes more than just V’s stray; she becomes instrumental.

I consider V for Vendetta to be a triumph of the potential of the graphic novel to convey themes and ideas as complex as any novel. I read it at least once a month, and each time I find something new or horribly relevant to today. Whether its priests who survey the death camps or the protestors being gunned down, the novel continues to resonate through to today. As discussed by the Guardian,

But even so, there’s no doubt that the evils of the British Tory party and Thatcherism were preying on Moore’s and Lloyd’s minds when they created the book – as they’ve both often confirmed in interviews. Here is Moore in conversation with a comic fan around the time of the release of the V for Vendetta film: “They were talking less about annihilating whichever minority they happened to find disfavour with and more about free market forces and market choice and all of these other kind of glib terms, which tended to have the same results as an awful lot of the kind of fascist causes back in the 1930s, but with a bit more spin put upon them. The friendly face of fascism.”

No doubt, V for Vendetta is compulsory reading for anyone who has ever felt disillusioned by government or pushed around by propaganda. Its more than just a call to action; it is the exploration of freedom, of choice and personal growth.

I don’t think the movie nearly approaches the level of meaning the graphic novel does; Evey’s choices and growth are very poorly handled in the movie and the ending is changed for the worse. Alan Moore has tried to distance himself from movies made out of his projects and added in another interview that he would spit venom all over the Watchmen movie when it was released. If one looks at the Watchmen and V for Vendetta movies as plain action flicks, then they deliver well. Its not the worst way to pass two or so hours (I suspect that Sex and the City 2 might be). But for those who love the novels, its very much like seeing a delicious cake, handcrafted lovingly by one’s mom, being enthusiastically stomped on by a schoolyard bully. I found this especially true with Watchmen, which was a brilliantly complex and difficult novel. The movie was just so…tawdry. Even though the actors looked exactly like their characters (which is fairly impressive), the only one who even approached the complexity of their character was Rorschach, as played by Jackie Earle Haley.

But a poor adaptation of a book is much more common than a good one, alas. (Fight Club, Sherlock and all the Roald Dahl books being exceptions to this rule.) It is especially bound to happen when trying to capture the complexity of works done by the inimitable Alan Moore. V for Vendetta has four major interlocking stories (V, Evey, Detective Finch, Creedy) as well as minor characters with substansial side stories. All of them come together in the graphic novel and each influences the other. The movie, on the other hand, was noisy and bombastic and mostly missed the point. Perhaps the Wachowski brothers felt that their work of torturing movie goers was not yet complete with the abortive failure of The Matrix Movies That Dare Not Speak Their Names. So they punished V instead.

Still. Hugo Weaving made an excellent V, which is the most redemptive thing about that film. If an audio book was an option, then he would be my first choice.

Triple Whammy Movie Review

One of the reasons why I am glad to be back in Joburg is that I do not have to wait a month until after a movie comes out to see it. So, in deference to the new purpose of the blog (ie not an angry feminist bitch blog, as it previously has been seen), I would like to offer my thoughts on new movies, and one I watched recently that isn’t new.

Clash of the Titans 3D

Overall, it was not great art, but it was in the vein of 300. Lots of well-designed monsters and landscapes. The dialogue wasn’t too painful, other than the “Someday, someone has to say ‘enough'” kind of rhetoric. The main guy was a bit of an annoyance, because if I was given the power of the gods, I would use it. Who wouldn’t? Um, Io was strange. There was a little bit of cradle-snatching going on there, but at least no gratuitous sex scenes/romance scenes etc. It is very loosely based on Greek mythology and they thieved from the Koran a bit with the Djinn, but since no one looks to these movies for great accuracy, this is fine. (Although 300 was remarkably accurate.)

The scorpions are well worth a mention for their sheer nastiness and excellent design. Charon (which they prounced ‘Karon’ instead of ‘Gahron’ in the correct Greek style) looked like the cover of a metal album. Which is awesome. His boat was superb as well. Visually, the movie offered interesting interpretations.I particularly enjoyed the interpretation of the Kraken, even though it is a creature of Icelandic and Norwegian mythology and not Hades’ demon voodoo poodle. I just wish that Ancient Greeks didn’t sound so American or Scottish. I know that we cannot be certain of what they sounded like, but they could have modelled it on a Cypriot accent. Because of its relative isolation, Cyprus speaks the closest dialect to Ancient Greek. Mind you, it isn’t the sexiest accent in the world. Neither is American. In any case, it jarred that these hardcore Greek warriors sounded like they fell out of a Hollywood studio.

The 3D, for a change, was superb. Alice in Wonderland had shocking 3D, and I have it on authority that Avatar, apparently filmed for 3D, was poorly rendered. (James Cameron is such a blowhard.) And speaking of 3D, that brings me to…

How To Train Your Dragon 3D

I watched the trailer for this and thought, ‘meh, looks lame’. But from the opening til the ending, I really, really enjoyed it. The wit was superb, the dragons stunningly rendered and the characters well-rounded and likeable. Toothless was absolutely adorable, in his looks and mannerisms. Like a big, fire-breathing puppy! Its good to see a kids’ movie returning to the relationship between child and animal. I think Disney helped encourage a love of animals in me, and I would like to see more of that in movies. The visuals were phenomenally well-rendered, Dreamworks providing the best 3D experience thus far. Garfield and Friends in 3D is next best.

Sure, none of the ideas were particularly new. Father-son relationships, being the odd one out, befriending the enemy etc, but what Dreamworks does best is inject new life into old concepts. I loved Stoic the Vast, who just dominated the screen whenever he was around with his amazing beard and breast-hat. Toothless and Hiccup were just so amazing, and often I was just so moved by the simple joy of their relationship that I came close to crying, Movies these days often don’t inspire me with just visuals alone, but HTTYD managed friendship without cliche. The movie really should have been horribly cliched but it wasn’t, and I loved it. The little accident that happens to Hiccup at the end stopped it from being disgustingly cheesy, so good work.

So, good on Dreamworks. For the fantastic design of the dragons, the DnD references, the cast, the voice work. I loved it all, and now look forward to finally watching Up.

Hancock

I wanted to see this the moment I saw the trailer. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Will Smith. Maybe its because he only has three facial expressions. Sad/kicked puppy, action man and comedian.

But Hancock put a very interesting spin on an old,and now tiring, genre. As a superhero, he is not awesome with a tragic flaw. He is just an ass. It takes work to groom him into being a relatively well-behaved superhero. He is an alcoholic, destructive, rude and sadistic anti-hero and it takes a really, really good normal guy to help him in an excellent role reversal. Because hero movies have always been about the hero inspiring others, and its nice to see the real good guy being a normal guy. The movie looks at PR, prisons, personal rehabilitation and the life of superheroes. The twist comes out of nowhere, is deftly handled and makes the movie even funnier.

The action was superbly choreographed, especially the opening car chase/car flying scene. Will Smith plays an asshole really, really well, and reluctant good guy equally well. It was good to see someone do something new with the superhero genre, similiar to what Robert Downey Jnr is doing with Iron Man. Because his Iron Man is a rich, narcissistic ass, which is unusual for a Marvel character. Tony Stark, who has an extreme intelligence, should not play well with others. The intelligent and brilliant usually don’t. That he is a man with money and attractiveness and uses it to get all the things he wants does make him unapproachable by the common person.

Hancock and Tony Stark are not supposed to be like us. Superheroes are not famous and long-lasting because they pay bills and deal with the traffic like we do. We admire them because they do things we cannot, because they are our wish-fulfilment creatures. It is why we read and play fantasy games. Most of us want to be or do more. For some of us, being awesomely good at martial arts or parkour or science is the closest we’ll ever get to being heroes. Most people on this planet will sink into mediocrity.

Perhaps this is why Tyler Durden is so seductive as a character and idea. The point of fight clubs is to remind men of their personal power, something they may feel robbed of in this new age. After all, they are no longer needed by Western women for anything, really. Wanted, of course, but not needed. We earn our own money, can adopt or buy children and hire specialists as needed for various tasks and household needs. Fight Club, I think, addresses this feeling of being unneeded. What the clubs do, then, is provide both group therapy and self-empowerment. So, to sum up Tyler Durden:

“Getting fired […] is the best thing that could happen to any of us. That way, we’d quit treading water and do something with our lives.”

Tyler says this after he puts a note amongst the rich hostess’ perfume bottles saying “I have urinated into one of your fine bottles”. The hostess goes insane, cuts herself to pieces on the bottles filled with whale oil and pain, and Tyler is glad that this act will free him from his menial, shit job. Later:

“I am trash,” Tyler said. “I am trash and shit and crazy to you and this whole fucking world,”Tyler said to the union president. “You don’t care where I live or how I feel, or what I eat or how I feed my kids or how I pay the doctor if I get sick, and yes I am stupid and bored and weak, but I am still your responsibility.”

This is why we have superheroes. Because most of us are stuck in menial, shit jobs, or in situations we don’t know how to change, or feel we don’t have the power to change. Tyler splices porn into kids’ movies to entertain himself. Tony Stark builds machines and is an alcoholic (in the comics), and Hancock drinks enough whiskey to drown a whale. Sometimes the closest we come to being like our heroes is that we have the same flaws, except that they colossally fuck us up more.

I love Tony Stark. Because I wish I was insanely smart and rich. I wish I was Tyler Durden, because he has the guts to be the anarchist I can’t be. I love Hancock because he was left behind and wonders ‘what kind of bastard I must have been if there was no one to claim me when I woke up’. Perhaps we can relate to them, but mostly we can’t. Superman is flimsy because he is too perfect. Especially after he was turned from 30’s vigilante to Christian poster-boy during the Vietnam War.

I don’t know why a movie review ended up becoming a dissertation on the place of the superhero, but if you are interested in this kind of cheap psychology, then read Superman on the Couch. All I really have to say is that I love comics and animé and movies because, like everyone else, I have wishes I can’t fulfil and that I turn to others to do it for me.  Because most of the time, I feel like this:

“What Tyler says about the crap and the slaves of history, that’s how I felt. I wanted to destroy something beautiful I’d never have. Burn the Amazon rain forests. Pump chlorofluorocarbons straight up to gobble the ozone. Open the dump valves on supertankers and uncap offshore oil wells. I wanted to kill all the fish I couldn’t afford to eat, and smother the French beaches I’d never see. I wanted the whole world to hit bottom. Pounding that kid, I really wanted to put a bullet between the eyes of every endangered panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species and every whale or dolphin that gave up and ran itself aground.”