My wife and I are currently enjoying the first season of Heroes. Normally I wouldn’t waste time being the last person on the planet to laud last year’s most successful show but in doing so there is much to comment on, not just with regards to TV thrillers but comic book culture in general.
I think Heroes has done critical damage to the comic book medium by exposing how many juvenile clichés they have adhered to through the years, all the while claiming to push the medium and elevate the art. Your first reaction might be to exclaim: “Well duh! Why wouldn’t comic books be juvenile?” The answer however is quite simple; they're not and they haven’t been geared that way for years. Gone are the generations that did things when they were kids and then dropped them as they rose into adulthood. There was heavy stigma in the days of our parents and grandparents to grow up, not so today. Everyone I know still watches cartoons, if only the odd one, or plays video games or reads a comic should someone pass them a graphic novel to peruse. Adulthood no longer means that you have to pick up a new set of hobbies or interests. Comics have been taking themselves very seriously and have stayed relevant by holding onto their aging base. This societal shift is the reason why a show like Heroes succeeds in the first place.
Many comics have tried to tell stories about normal people suddenly gaining super-powers and their reactions have never been close to feeling authentic. By issue two or three there is inevitably a costume appearance and all the other trappings of pulp paper heroism. This program on the other hand has succeeded with genuine reactions on multiple occasions. The story of how their characters cope with their new found abilities is subtle, wildly varying, and clever. Power granting has put stains on marriage, has friends and family questioning sanity, has lead to temptation, theft, murder, despair, delusions of grandeur, and yes, a renewed sense of hope for the world. They have covered all the bases and told each story with care. I know Stan Lee has taken notice of this, he even made a cameo.
What’s also great is how every character runs against type. They’ve taken the standard suite of powers any X-Men reader would recognize and matched them with really unlikely personalities. The dashing and manipulative politician isn’t the mind-reader, he can fly. The buff black dude doesn’t have super-strength, his stripper wife does. The otaku can’t pull a run on bank machines or access the internet with his mind, he bends time. In comic books the characters are often mere shadows or extensions of what they can do. In Heroes the people clearly come before the supernatural.
In terms of a TV program Heroes also delivers where shows like The X-Files and Lost have failed. They set up a mystery, they give it a few episodes to stew, and then they land the plane on time. They answer their own big questions with fair regularity rather than milk your patience from one season to the next. Not only does this prove that the show is well written but it has the most excellent side-effect of changing the show and its' characters in significant ways. Maybe if Mulder left the F.B.I. in the third season and started working for the Russians, or if more characters got off Perpetual Mystery Island then both of those shows wouldn’t have deflated into formulaic set-pieces incapable of keeping my attention. It’s refreshing to watch a show with real consequences because you don’t know what will happen next. When a program doesn't have the built-in reset, where everything has to go more or less back to the way it was at the top of the hour, then you can tell the stories that lesser shows dare not tell.
So to honour Heroes I’m going to throw up some entertainment news today with a focus of course on Hollywood casualties and other nut-bar celebrities.
So Unfitney lost custody of her two kids because she failed to attend a court-ordered drug test and counselling sessions, instead tooling around town with her kids and no driver’s license. What the fuck is it with these millionaire entertainment morons and their cars? If I had one-tenth of this egg donor’s money I would be riding dirty in a glass-bottomed hovercraft piloted by a champagne-serving Amazon who would answer to the name THUNDERCUNT – spelt with capital letters only if you please. I ask you my friend, who among us wouldn’t? The latest pictures of Britney show her to be radiantly happy which is more fuel on the fires of speculation that she didn't want them anymore in the first place.
I never heard of Lou Pearlman but apparently this bloated fat-sac was a mogul for boy bands such as NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. Now he’s behind bars with allegations of child molester coming out of the woodwork. It’s actually quite brilliant in a John Wayne Gacy the Killer Clown kind of way. Lou set up a front that would lure the tastiest cuts of teenage girly-boys into his clutches and in exchange for sex he would set them up in a career requiring no brains or talent. The thought that the handsome and much beloved Justin Timberlake was once a potential fuck-toy for Mojo; Leader of the Spineless Ones (pictured above) seems just and right to me in this topsy-turvy world of ours.
Tom Cruise is apparently going to build a massive bunker under his mansion. Despite his spokesperson denying the Dr. Evil inspired renovations the article obstinately pushes on, claiming that Tom is preparing for a revenge attack on earth to be perpetrated by Xenu! The whole premise is beyond stupid. If Xenu is capable of intergalactic flight then he would have no trouble carving Cruise’s lily-white ass out of whatever earthy stronghold humanity can conceive of. Even a Scientologist like Tom Cruise Mapother IV (no shitting – his real name) would come to this conclusion. The more one believes in Xenu the more hopeless a mere mortal’s plight against him becomes. Xenu destroyed a race of aliens and stuffed their souls into volcanoes. Just what the hell would a sub-basement that gets satellite cable do against the likes of that? This guy gets nothing but bad press these days because he’s proven himself to be a dick but I still love his movies. I thought MI3 and War of the Worlds was great! I’m looking forward to the Nazi film he’s working on.
Last bit of garbage for the trash compactor and it’s a gross one. A couple pictures of Anna Nicole Smith in the final month of her life were leaked to the public by a bodyguard. He’s looking to draw attention to the fact that her demise may have been enabled by those around her. These pictures are horrid to the point of being sad. That said it couldn’t have happened to a nicer lady. Karma can be a real bitch.