The Occupy Wall Street Movement is growing to monumental proportions and as it does we are paying witness to more and more conflicts between protestors and police. In Oakland the conflict hit home to those of us in the comic industry when comic artist/journalist Susie Cagle was teargassed by Oakland Police while covering the protest as a member of the media.
Reading her account in an interview on The Daily Cross Hatch and watching Youtube videos of the conflicts arising there and elsewhere struck a sickening yet familiar chord with me that paralleled a theme used successfully in comics where the hero becomes the villain in the eyes of the public.
Since the terrible 9/11 tragedy of the the World Trade Towers in 2001, police officers along with firemen, first responders and military personnel have all been hailed as heroes. These men and women are real heroes that touch our daily lives and sacrifice their own to protect ours. Memorials, monuments and statues have been erected all across our country in towns big and small, over the last decade, paying tribute to their valor.
These same men and women are now portrayed as the villains in this unfolding drama, shown in armor, wielding weapons and battling the very innocent, unarmed people they have sworn to protect. Suddenly, they are the target of taunting, name calling and general public hatred. Sound familiar?
Spider-man was publicly painted a villain by J. Jonah Jameson, Bat Man upholds the mantle of villain in Dark Knight, The X-Men are hated for their superior mutant powers though they strive to protect the weak. Even the supers in the Incredibles are forced underground because the were presented to the public as a potential threat to society. The list of superheroes painted as villains is long.
The story is always the same. In the end it is the public that becomes the victim as it is left without its champions, its defenders, its heroes. In the comics the hero always overcomes and saves the day. Unfortunately in real life, that is not always the case.
The Occupy Wall Street Movement has wakened America and the world to the imbalances of the haves and the have nots but its campaign is in danger of dividing the people along our own social lines of defense. Those officers are as much a part of the 99% as anybody. None of them are millionaires. They are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. Let’s not turn on them. Embrace them. They have proven that they will put their life on the line for the public. They are our heroes.
Villainy wants the public at odds with the police and military. It is a distraction from the real issues of corporate greed and corrupt government. It is a battle that needs to be won and will need our proven heroes in order to succeed.
The heroes in comics are fictional and we all cheer when they come to the rescue. We can’t believe that they were ever forsaken. Let’s learn a lesson from our comic books and keep our focus on the real villains: The one’s with the most to gain at the expense of everyone else.
Making Comics Because I Want To