I just got back from watching The Amazing Spider-Man. My motivation to see the movie was about 40% Spider-Man and 60% Emma Stone.
It was a fun movie, and I thought it made some improvements to the originals (which of course sets it miles above ‘3’). The fight dialogue gets fairly cheesy, but the movie makes up for it with very enjoyable interactions between characters in the non-actiony scenes.
America has had super-hero fever bad for over a decade now. X-Men blasted onto screens at the turn of the millennium, and they’ve only gotten more popular from there, the studios sometimes churning out three or four a year. Two months ago, Marvel’s The Avengers broke numbers of box office records.
Why are these movies so popular? You can say it’s about the action or the special effects, but I think it ultimately comes down to the fact that we all want to be superheroes.
You can take or leave the spandex, the fights, or the secret identities, but we all want to stand out, to be praised by those around us. Movies and TV shows encourage you to be a superhero, an FBI agent, or an investigator of paranormal activity. Video games let you save your country, world, or universe a hundred times over without leaving your chair.
Maybe you want to be the world’s greatest detective, a celebrated singer, a master chef, or a renowned dancer. Maybe you want to rise to the top of your law firm, prove an unprovable hypothesis, or deliver miracle cures to the sick and infirm. Maybe you want to be a parent that your children always look up to, or the funniest person in your group of friends. You want to be the best at something.
I can relate. I want to be the best at everything.
I want to be a writing superhero. I want to write dozens of novels, and then write the screenplays for the movies. Which I also want to direct. And I want to write a TV show. And graphic novels. And video games. And anything else with a story.
I want to be an internet superhero. I want my blog to get thousands of subscribers. And I want my Reddit posts to get lots of upvotes. I want to create Youtube videos that get posted and reposted and e-mailed to everyone by aunts and grandmas.
I want to be a job superhero. I want to learn the ins and outs of whatever job I hold at the given time and figure out how to be the most efficient, hardworking, and cheerful worker in the place.
I want to be a family superhero. I want to be a dashingly romantic, perfectly sensitive, giving, loving, and sexually-satisfying husband with perfectly behaved over-achieving children.
I think it’s normal to want to excel…to have superpowers, in a sense.
However…being a superhero will kill you.
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America has become a culture of celebrities. Movie stars, pop singers, authors, artists, talk show hosts, comedians, psychologists, and just plain attractive people dominate our magazines, newspapers, and televisions. We follow their every move, cheering or booing as actions dictate, and we fantasize about being famous too.
But do they seem to be happier than we mere mortals? Surprisingly, no. An examination of the lifestyles of the rich and famous reveals breakdowns, meltdowns, freak-outs, screaming matches, divorces, suicides, and psychological issues that even Freud couldn’t name.
I don’t believe people are built for the rise and fall of fame. Celebrities become accustomed to a certain level of attention and adulation. When their audience’s eyes turn elsewhere, they don’t know how to cope with the loss of relevance. They embark on any number of self-destructive behaviors to try to regain that recognition.
It is dangerous to base your importance on how other people think about you. No matter your actual worth, you can do nothing to control the whims of others. Besides, what do they know, anyway?
I know this sounds like cop-out advice, but find value in yourself before expecting other people to to validate you. Make a list of your skills and your best qualities. Think about the accomplishments you’ve had in your life so far, and the accomplishments you’re going to have. Start your own Summer of Awesomeness, and discover new ways to improve yourself.
And way down here in this last paragraph, I’ll add in the bit that many of you will probably disagree with, this being InternetLand: Find validation in God. Know that he loves you…regardless of your GPA…regardless of how successful your blog/novel/career was or wasn’t…regardless of your successes or mistakes, God loves you, and he wants you to succeed.
Feel free to disagree with me. I get my self-worth somewhere else.