Hey, guys. How’s everyone doing? You started on your Christmas shipping yet? Cool, cool, cool. So I’m not sure exactly how to break this to you, but superheros are real as fuck and they live in Seattle. Also real life superheros are the worst.
But let me back up a little. On this week’s episode of iZombie, Liv eats the brain of a vigilante who calls himself The Fog, and starts dressing up in a black superhero costume to fight crime just like the decedent did. Side note, are you watching iZombie? Because it’s amazing. It mixes pulpy noir with cheesy goodness at magnificent levels, and I don’t even like cheesy goodness. You should watch it.
More importantly, the plot on iZombie unintentionally introduced me to Phoenix Jones, the aforementioned real life superhero who is the worst. Although that’s not to say that he hasn’t done anything good. Jones, whose real name is Ben Fodor, is an MMA fighter who decided to get more involved in patrolling Seattle. Totally understandable and respectable decision. As Phoenix Jones, he’s been credited with stopping several assaults, preventing a drunk guy from driving, and chasing away a car thief before said thief could break into a car. He also joined and became the most prominent member of a real life superhero squad called the Rain City Superhero Movement before they disbanded last year. That name is a little on the nose for my taste, but that’s a small quibble.
Not such a small quibble is the superhero costume itself. What’s up with that, Phoenix? I know you’ve said it’s “the best way to prevent getting mistaken for a criminal by the police,” but I’m not really buying that. Wouldn’t you be able to accomplish that same task by wearing a “Neighborhood Watch” sash? Or those terrible Members Only jackets worn by the Guardian Angels? I know neither group is perfect and both have had some serious allegations against them, but neither one is mistaken for criminals when they’re doing a citizen patrol. Also the police in Seattle have warned against being a masked crusader because “the strange costumes may lead to emergency calls from citizens who mistake the ‘superheroes’ for criminals.’” Of course you could easily inform the general public about your presence, explain that you’re only masked because you’re interested in helping, and count on being recognizable enough in public that that wouldn’t present a problem. Or, you know, the exact opposite of why superheros wear masks in the first place.
Fodor isn’t wearing the costume because he wants to remain anonymous or to protect his loved ones. He’s doing it in order to raise his profile. While a more cynical person (aka me) would argue this proves the whole superhero thing is at least partly selfishly motivated, Fodor might argue that it’s needed to be part of the symbol the city needs. The Seattle Police Department, unfortunately like all police departments, has had its share of misconduct and allegations made against it. If citizens feel like the can’t trust the police, they would need someone to empower them to feel that they can make a change. Provided that each citizen has the same physical training and background as you do.
“I don’t condone people walking around on the street with masks,” Jones was quoted as saying. “Everyone on my team either has a military background or a mixed martial arts background, and we’re well aware of what its costs to do what we do.”
So Jones needs his costume in order to patrol against crime, but doesn’t recommend that average citizens do the same. And he doesn’t work directly for the police because he wanted to take policing into his own hands. Taking policing into his own hands like this.
For those who can’t watch the video, or just don’t want to sit through a 9 minute pissing contest, it shows Jones and company coming across three probably drunk, definitely belligerent assholes. The Rain City Superheroes confront the trio of assholes, start to walk away, call the police, and then come back so Jones can engage in “mutual combat.” The “mutual combat” ends with trained MMA fighter Phoenix Jones beating the shit out of random asshole in the orange shirt.
Are you fucking kidding me?
1.) I think Jones will now need to relinquish credit from breaking up all of those fights he’s claimed to stop. They were all just engaging in group mutual combat.
2.) Don’t. Don’t do any of this. The reason that police are police is because they’re supposed to be held to higher standards. If a cop came across a possibly drunk, definitely outmatched asshole he couldn’t just say, “Oh you agree to fight me? Awesome. I’m going to literally knock you unconscious.” When cops do similar shit, we should be outrage and investigate the excessive force that was used. We don’t post it to YouTube so nearly 4 thousand people can comment about how awesome it is.
This video is the reason you shouldn’t think about superhero stories too much. Sure, Peter Parker can’t reveal his powers because Oscorp might kidnap him for evil, invasive testing. Superman works with the police, but because he’s often the only person able to stop supervillians, he has to sometimes use excessive force. And Batman, well, Batman might actually just be a dick. Within the confines of a contrived narrative, the superhero’s motivations and actions are always justified. But in the real world, you’re just costumed asshole in a street fight.