Superhero Presumptions 5

Hiding secret identities is becoming too difficult now, what with the prevalence of the internet, sites like Wikileaks, and the payment for data trade. Any author with pen names (Rowling-slash-Galbrieth anyone?) knows the truth of this.

And our superheroes are giving up on the secret identity effort also.

Bruce WayneIt’s not just the internet, blogs and newscasts. Society overall is less willing to allow any of our public figures to have a secret life, for fear they’re getting up to no good. (Possibly a relevant fear with some of our authority figures. Even Obama was constantly questioned over his own origins and claims, to the point of publishing birth certificates.

And we like to think we’re not as stupid as all those people who apparently can’t see Superman when Clark sticks on a pair of glasses.

Socially, we can be many different people across the internet. On Twitter I am a different version of myself. This blog gives you one side of me, but not all of me. Behind the scenes I could even be a different gender than you may think.

As a society, we no longer can trust what we see in public. We no longer simply rest our faith in costumery.

And who’s the most public of all? Superheroes, of course.

Whereas the U.S.A. appears to accept Amazonian princesses and superhumans from outerspace (provided they help out occasionally with supercriminal mastermind plots and such), other nations are more suspicious of people just showing up out of nowhere. Here in Australia such people are sent back on boats to places like Papua New Guinea, and must await months of confinement before any hope of getting into the country.

secret identity glassesAlthough Peter Parker/Spiderman (Note: Peter came out in 2006 in Marvel event, Civil War, which was a bit of an anomaly ) and Clark Kent/Superman are still holdouts for a good secret identity, many others of our well-known superheroes no longer see the need to pretend.

Thor roams around the Marvel Cinematic Universe without being Donald Blake (but with a pesky brother) but then again he’s having a sex-change soon. Going by American laws he’ll (sorry, force of habit – she’ll…) have problems establishing his her new gender on official documents, though. S.H.I.E.L.D. associates and the Avengers do pay tax, right?

Most of the X-Men’s real names are well-known. The Fantastic Four are out in the public arena. Wonder Woman and Diana are used interchangeably. Tony Stark uses his Iron Man for Stark Industry promotions. Never mind this promotion has led to the destruction of two of his residences, not to mention the endangerment of his girlfriend.

Captain America is wiki-listed publicly as Steve Rogers. The Green Lanterns are known. Ex-Robin Dick is unmasked as Nightwing.

Some other holdouts – Bruce Wayne and Batman, although down in the batcave, his confidants call him “Bruce” and *spoiler*  in a recent Batman and Robin, Bruce told the world he had funded the Batman franchise for years.

Television’s Arrow keeps his own identity as secret as possible in the first series to protect his family, or possibly where the fortune is coming from to fund all those electro-arrows.

So that makes two reasons for upholding a good secret identity–

  1. To protect loved ones, and
  2. Vigilantes reliant on inheritances, massive funding and savings plans.
  3. Whereas working superheroes can live a life out of the closet. But superman likes to stay there. In the closet, or retro telephone booth if he can find one.

The-StigYes, we all like a good mystery. Hence the need to replace one Stig for another a couple of years ago, when Britain’s BBC2’s Top Gear masked car-racer  revealed himself.


2 thoughts on “Superhero Presumptions 5

  1. I think social media, by its nature, forces frameworks on us that are different from everyday face-to-face meeting – and which means we cannot fully know the people with whom we communicate. It also makes it easy to obfuscate. Not a new issue; penfriends were the same in our grandparents’ generation.

    To this has to be added the importance of privacy. Anything we put on social media is published, conceptually in an identical manner to if we published it in the local newspaper. Anybody can read it, and it’s there permanently. Do we want the whole world, publicly at random, to know every detail of where we live, what we do, and so forth? I suspect a certain Mr Zuckerberg does, but I don’t. Even if I did, part of my life intersects with that of my family, so I’d be intruding on their privacy too.

    For my own part, I blog about certain things, but not the whole of my life – nor is that appropriate for the theme of my blog (which I view as a magazine or newspaper column). And I am reasonably open: I use my real name, I describe the real place I actually live in – down to city level – and I discuss the real things I get up to relative to my writing. Some people don’t – they present pseudonyms and either omit or obfuscate just about every possible personal detail. Their choice.

    1. Interesting views, Matthew. I write under a pen name here, but have never made that a secret – it was chosen simply for when I concentrated on writing thriller fiction, as I’d already established some other creative work under my real name. My pen name is actually real also (which is helpful, as it helps me remember it) based on surnames and such.

      With my newer genre – superheroes YA – I’m actually thinking around the need to go back to my first author name – my own.

      Regarding hiding stuff – I try to hide some of my personal life, particularly around having a young daughter, as in the UK when blogging, I actually had a bit of a scare with having a blog stalker. Most of us try to keep our exact place of residence etc away from quick inspection, for obvious reasons. In the UK, parents aren’t even allowed to take personal photographs at schools of their own kids without seeking written permission from other parents.

      The subject of identity and privacy is very muddy nowadays, and it’s interesting to see it being debated through our pop cultural elements like graphic novel storylines recently also.

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