August 6th, 2006

Dance

Heroes, Super

I've recently started watching what is my third reality show, Sci-Fi Network's Who Wants to be a Superhero (the other two were WB's Next Action Star and Fox's So You Think You Can Dance). THe premise for the show is people create a superhero character then compete in standard reality show contests, albeit with a superhero theme, and the winner appears in a TV movie and comic book written by Stan Lee. The catch is that the contestants aren't being evaluated on the results of the contests but rather how they compete.

In the first show, for example, the contestants were allegedly being tested on how quickly they could change into their costumes, out of sight, and run across a plaza. The catch was that it was really a Good Samaritan set up. A lost, crying child was in their path. Some of the heros stopped to help the child, some of them ran on by to complete their mission. Take a guess which ones had better evaluations. In another test the contestants costumes were upgraded and one contestant received a ridiculously lousy costume. He hated the costume but kept it to himself in order to suck up to Stan Lee. He was nearly kicked off the show.

In the most recent episode the heroes had to run across a backyard guarded by trained attack dogs and touch the door of a house (the concept was there was an old woman inside who needed their help). All but one of the contestants made it or failed in less than a minute. Monkey Girl took 9:55. Ashamed at having failed the test with the child she absolutely refused to give up even as the dogs were hanging on her arms and pulling her back from the door (they were wearing protective gear, but even so). That level of dedication exemplifies heroism.

Stan Lee understands heroism. As he's stated on the show, testing the heroes cannot simply be a matter of seeing who can run faster or lift the most, but character. Monkey Girl made a mistake with the child but she recognized that and did everythign she could to make up for it. Heroism is something anyone can accomplish. Anyone can stop to help a crying child. Anyone can register their objections. Anyone can refuse to surrender. But how many of us do?