So here’s the thing – Birmingham has its very own superhero. That’s England’s-Second-City-Birmingham, not That-Other-Birmingham-in-Alabama-Birmingham (you’d expect Alabama to have a superhero, because superheroes are American, like cowboys and Chevys and pancakes for breakfast).
Anyway, by day he works at a bank. By night he’s the Statesman, scourage of bad guys and a friend to the homeless. It’s kinda hard to know what to make of this sort if thing – as any filmmaker will tell you, it’s hard not to take something essentially designed for comics and not have it look ridiculous when you translate it to reality. The cynical side of me thinks that people have been dressing up in uniform and helping the homeless for years – they’re called the Salvation Army (and let’s not forget street pastors and organisations like Birmingham City Mission while we’re at it). I also hope he’s been reading All Star Superman more than he’s been reading Watchmen.
But that’s the cynical side of me, and if you listen to your cynical side long enough you stop smiling and the whole Earth turns dark. Who am I to diss the Statesman? The guy goes out four nights a week and tries to make the world a better place (and let’s not kid ourselves, some parts of Birmingham aren’t exactly pretty after dark). It’s the same reason I don’t knock celebrities for doing charity appeals – if charity begins at home, then how much of my disposable income goes to worthy causes? To someone who’s got nothing, I look as rich as Bono.
I guess the moral of the story is that you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, and while that doesn’t automatically mean you should go out wearing a cape (not many people can carry off a cape), sometimes making the world a better place means doing something a bit crazy. And I think I’ll feel a bit better if the Statesman’s patrolling the mean streets of Birmingham tonight; not because I think superheroing is necessarily the best response to the world’s problems, but because it means that someone actually gives a damn. And he who saves one live saves the world entire.
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