Somebody save me

The Batman

When I look at this picture of the Batman, it elicits a certain feeling of pride and relation to it. It somewhat embodies my aspirations: that one day I will save the world. The same sentiments were echoed by Steven Njuguna (working in the animation industry) who was recently invited by CSI Satima.

As we watch this kind of fictional characters, we pick up role models, albeit subconsciously. Batman is the story of an American millionaire whose parents are murdered while he is still young. His feeling of resentment gives rise to a resolution to fight crime and revenge on criminals like the ones who murdered his parents.

It is easy to identify with his character and his emotions because often times we find ourselves in the same situation. How often have you felt like throwing punches when a tout ripped you off? Have you ever had a lecturer who would always award you a C regardless of how many times you burned the midnight oil? What comes to your mind when our honorable MPs dishonorably pass a bill in record time, increasing their already hefty perks?

A temptation to take the law into your hands maybe? But more often than not we do not, fearing the colossal consequences that may ensue (especially with the tout). The notion of justice is hardwired into us and our feelers raise the alarm at it’s slightest infringement. We are however frustrated by the absence of a means of retribution.

While watching Batman, or any other superhero story for that matter, we loosen our bonds with this hard reality. We are teleported into a world with no consequences; where the superhero is incredibly strong and the story always has a happy ending.

We quickly identify ourselves with the superhero, the very personification of justice, and try to restore harmony which is such a tall order for us in the real world. Do not despise my fairy tales, for there is a subtle lesson to be learnt here.

Man does not live on bread alone, but also on faith, hope and eventually love. Life is good, but sometimes disappointment can bravely rear out its ugly head, firmly grasping our hand and determinedly leading us down the road to despair. How many times after a hard struggle have we thrown in the towel and said “It cannot be done” or asked ourselves “Does it matter what I do?”. I know of many people who will not vote in the coming general elections because “… it will not make a difference.”

Reality could hit us hard, and our noblest aspirations could seem as a pipe dream. Yet there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Isn’t this the message of any superhero story? The forces of darkness may be strong and determined but good always triumphs over evil: Batman will always outsmart the Joker, Superman will always overcome his weakness for Kryptonite somehow and Frodo will overcome his fears and undertake the journey to Mount Doom.

These powerful stories, embodied in movies or literature, give us a lease of life. They show us that evil can be overcome and there Is a happily ever after. They give us hope, that all-essential virtue we need to have if we are to undertake anything worthwhile. It was therefore not folly for G.K. Chesterton, one of the greatest literary minds of the 20th century, to say: “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

by Peter Maina

One Comment
  1. The super-hero stories give you that big-guy feel, that the ultimate goals you want to achieve, the fear of what will inevitably follow if you fail will give you the wings to rise from the deepest caverns of hell. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego is a man we can be forgiven to believe can never walk the face of the earth. A billionaire philanthropist who created the hooded figure to fight for the city he loves and would readily die for. that’s what inspires me most about the story, that there can be powerful people in the world who aren’t blinded by their money and power and will go down the sewers to reach out to the homeless and fight the wars that the ordinary guy in the street cant fight.

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