When I was a kid - and this is the reason I still love the idea, the concept behind the modern-day superhero, even though I would not know how to write them (well, for the most part) - I learned a great many things about morality. The way boys do. That there is right and wrong. That "with great power comes great responsibility". And that you have to do what is right, not good, but right, even if it means you have to take the hits and bleed for it.
A rather simplistic way of looking at the world, every adult would say. Besides, dressing up in a costume? And a mask? And right wrongs? Since Kick-Ass we know how that would fly. Or rather, we know that in the Kick-Ass part, not so much in the Hit-Girl part, and if we are honest, we all just cared about Hit-Girl, and I don't mean that in a sexual sense. She was essentially Robin by the way of Frank Miller's Dark Knight and the stand-in for every fantasy a powerless kid has ever had.
People are complex creatures, our experiences tell us. And the great works of literature teach us. Good people do bad things. And bad things happen to good people. And none of it is just. Or right. And that is why the youth has never, could never, will not ever accept that. Not while they are still young. Not while they still believe what we, the adults, are teaching them.
That there is right and wrong.
But when you are grown up, you don't believe that, not really. You tell your kids that, the way that you tell your kids that there is a Santa Claus. Because soon enough, far too soon that light in their eyes - as we know from ourselves - will begin to dim, and what we taught them to be right will land them into trouble in the real world. If not in pre-school, then in high school at the latest, when they begin to realize that there is no right, there is no wrong.
There is only power. And those who have it. And those who don't.
When they realize that a teacher can end their future at his or her whim. When they realize that grades can be bought, that your entry into college, into the elite has nothing to do with being excpetional, only with being exceptionally wealthy.
Of course, this is coming from a white man. And if I'd had any black friends growing up (pretty much impossible in Germany at my time), they probably would have told me that while I was 14 or so.
Preferably in rap speak, like What else is new, nigga?
But I am reminded of my own youth these days when I look around and see them standing up, all around the world. The ones that were betrayed by the generations that have come before them. Be it in Egypt, be it in Tunisia... or in the vast wastelands of cyberspace.
And whether it is factually true or not, the latter at least seems to have taken note of those things that were written, not by the likes of Hemingway, Joyce, Fitzgerald or Frentzen, all of them now elitist literature to them and without a bearing on the lives they lead, no, as Frank Miller once wrote when I got back into the four-colour world of comics, these kids are more pure, more digitial, they are almost binary.
And as the group Anonymous is proving and has proven over the past two years or so, they don't take their ideas from Marx, not from any grand, almost theological ideology.
They take their cue from something simpler and yet deeper than anything the generations before them have read. The Guy Fawkes mask that pops up again and again, be it in Twitter feeds about the Egyptian people's stand or be it in the dismantling of corporate cyberterrorist firms like HBGary Federal , and it is not the actual Guy Fawkes they are referencing.
It's a mythological one.
It is one created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, for their comic book (or graphic novel, whatever you may call it) V For Vendetta. It is a youth that still has an idea and ideals. And the power to make it happen. In tweets. In emails. In relay chats. They are out there, and if you read some of the chat logs, like the one concerning HBGary Federal, they are kids, they talk like kids, but don't dismiss them because of that. Or you might get hacked by a 16-year old girl, you know? Which I admittedly find awesome. That somewhere out there is a girl who is not Disney Princess-ified, who went, you want to treat us like shit? You just wait, big man. I have a keyboard, a web access and an IQ of over 150!
They are what my generation should have been.
What we all should be.
And they got told by the ones with the power, all over the world, to go to their fucking rooms, you don't understand why we have to support torturers and mass murderers, why it is imperative that the governments lie to you, we all lie to you, you are children, and did we mention that there is no Santa Claus?
And they won't have it. They still believe.
That with great power comes great responsibility.
That there is right and wrong.
That lying is wrong. That dealing with dictators for the "greater good" is wrong. That there is no difference between corporations trying to go Big Brother on their asses and governments doing the same. They look at the world that their mothers and fathers have created, and they see it through pure eyes.
And with keyboards as their weapon of choice.
They are out here. And they are nameless. And faceless.
But not soulless.
And they are the ones who are choosing the battlefields. On Torrent sites. On servers. On the web, where they can push back. And push back they do. That is something those who have established the system, those who are the system, those who have feasted on this generation's spirits, will never understand.
Because those who are the system, they dress up differently. They dress in cynicsm. In suits. And wealth. And political ideologies. They tell us about hope and change and hope we haven't noticed that they have short-changed our hopes. That they sold them out. For a better job. For more money. For the White House. And then call that being responsible. And being grown up. Because those who are the system, they think that right and wrong is fleeting, malleable and only serves their own needs.
As it has been all throughout history, somewhere along the lines of growing up we stop believing in truth and justice and start believing in law and order.
They are not the same.
And these kids know that.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Because, "there is an idea behind this mask, Mr. Creedy."
And ideas are indeed bullet-proof.
It is us who have forgotten.