OPINION: Of Vigilantes and Villains

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Who came first, the hero or the villain? The question came into the general public’s awareness in 1989, when Batman and the Joker shared the exchange during a pivotal moment in the Batman film. While many will ponder in message boards and on soap boxes, a real world example may have finally answered that question.

BIRTH OF A SUPERHERO

You’ve probably heard of Benjamin John Francis Fodor, the 24 year old who patrols the streets of Seattle dressed as superhero Phoenix Jones. His goal is noble, and is very much in line with what millions around the world read in the comic books – he fights crime. The origin story of Phoenix Jones also mirrors that of any number of four color characters; having had his son injured due to a car break-in, and having a friend assaulted outside a bar with no on stepping in to help but him, was enough to make the message clear in his mind.

“And I thought, why didn’t someone help him? There were seventy people outside that bar and no one did anything.”

To keep the police from confusing him as a criminal, Fodor decided to wear a supersuit and adopt the name Phoenix Jones. As far as his “powers” go, Fodor is a mixed martial artist , and his costume is made from a bulletproof vest, stab plating, and he carries around a stun baton, pepper spray, tear gas, and handcuffs, as well as a first-aid kit.

From Daredevil to Batman and Spider-Man, comic book heroes have seen wrongs being done to others and have taken it upon themselves to aid law enforcement to keep the public at large safe. And just like in the comics, local law enforcement doesn’t know what to do with Phoenix Jones, as they’ve told him on a number of occasions to stop it for fear others will get the idea in their heads that vigilantism is the way to go during a time when police forces are spread thin, and city public safety budgets are low. From the public safety standpoint, the police are trying to prevent others from getting hurt.

“I will continue to be an activist, will continue to do work both as Ben Fodor and as Phoenix Jones. I will continue to dedicate myself to the things I believe in, [... ]will look out for the victims of street crime and will always fight for what I believe in. I will also spread awareness of the rising problem of cyber bullying.”

But others have joined the cause, and currently twelve other heroes have joined Jones to form the Rain City Superhero Movement.


The group stopped four persons pretending to be law enforcement from robbing a blind man whose pockets they purported to be lawfully searching.[4] Red Dragon notes that the group has also “stopped car-jackings, helped stranded vehicles on the highways, stopped people from driving drunk, chased down and aided in the apprehension of a sex-offender, and even escorted people to their cars late at night.”[3] They have dealt with a man making threatening statements while swinging a golf club.

CRAPPING ALL OVER IT

While I have many thoughts on the vigilante, what’s more important here is that individuals are taking it upon themselves to help their fellow man, and that is noble, and something more people could and should consider in this day and age. But, in typical troll like behavior, someone is more than happy to come along and crap all over that idea.

Enter Rex Velvet, Supervillain (facebook page http://www.facebook.com/RexVelvet)

As an anthesis to Phoenix Jones and his team, the handle-bar sporting, bowler hat wearing Rex Velvet wants the “silliness” to stop.

While Rex Velvet may be making a legitimate commentary on vigilante superheores, and doing it in a way to inject humor into the situation (and draw attention to himself and his business in the process), Velvet proves that point – heroes do create the villain. For every action there is a reaction.

Rex Velvet isn’t his real name (to my knowledge), and he’s hiding behind a crazy character to accomplish his mission and give “The Ol’ What-For” to Rain City. His antics are over the top and he comes off very much like the Joker, without the psychopathic mass murdering tendencies… that we know of…

While I don’t agree with Rex Velvet’s view, I certainly support his willingness and right to speak his mind, but a slick media campaign hasn’t appeared to phase the costumed heroes around the world in their mission.

CREATING OUR OWN VILLAINS

Whatever Phoenix Jones’ ulterior motives may be, the underlying message is what is most striking to me, and that gives me hope that mankind will ultimately rise and become a better group of people.  But a message isn’t going to turn the world around… Though we may not dress in costume and fight crime, our actions and comments are going to attract the attention of those who don’t agree with us. Haters, gonna hate, right?

What are you doing that is creating your own arch-nemesis? There’s always going to be That Guy who doesn’t like you, doesn’t like your ideals, who feels like you are the competition, and will do everything in his (or her) power to bring you down. This isn’t a question over being a good and just person, but one of dealing with those that try to shatter your dreams and goals. What are you going to do about those people who are always talking behind your back, making fun of you, or simply being inconsiderate?

There are two ways you can deal with your arch-nemesis – punch them in the face or ignore them.  Violence only leads to more violence, and for Phoenix Jones, he has elected to ignore his arch enemy.

Hopefully you are ignoring the haters. Hopefully you are following your dreams and your goals regardless of who tries to knock you down.  While there will be those that always want to tear you down, I hope you continue to march on. Dreams and ideals shouldn’t be shattered by an ass-hat with an eye-patch.