Growing up, like every other kid, I had a fascination with the superheroes in my comic strips and cartoons. I would tie my towel around my neck and jump on my bed springs pretending to be Superman or Batman. Turning on the fan and striking a pose while my towel fluttered in the artificial wind, I convinced myself that I was going to be the next inductee into the Justice League. Sadly growing up you quickly come to the realization that these are just dreams and your daily goals switch from trying to save the world to trying to save your week by binge watching, eating, drinking or partying through your weekend. Retrospectively though, Jamaica is not well suited to becoming a superhero at all. It’s as if the socioecopolitical landscape is just not conducive to the creation of these caped crusaders. I’ve distilled five reasons below why I think we’ll never have an Iron Man or a Batman amongst us:
1. Economic constraints
All masked marauders need a healthy diet and a steady income to keep their alteregos in well enough shape. Unfortunately with a stagnating production and service industry the caped crusader will more often find his alterego unemployed rather than underemployed. Spiderman is obviously going to have technical difficulties surviving if he can’t help Aunt May pay the bills or find anyone willing to buy his pictures. Add to that, it’s almost mandatory for these heroes to have a dramatic skyline or backdrop to ‘do-the-do’ in. Save for a sprinkling of high rises, Kingston doesn’t do it as far as scenescapes go. The situation continues to spiral downward from there when you consider public destruction would never get fixed and the government would probably increase taxes on the citizens as a result, while not making any tangible changes to the infrastructure. All in all this becomes a pretty tall hurdle for a civic minded superhero.
2. Badman nuh wear leotard
You can’t get a superhero identity going properly without a liberal application of spandex. And the one unspoken truth within Jamaican society is …. Badman nuh wear leotard. This paradox of a necessity makes superhero creation that much more difficult. How do you get to impart the gravity of your gravely Batmanesque voice if everyone is prostrate on the ground laughing at your leotard. “Put the gun down” would immediately be followed by a retort “Fruity Pebbles go put on some pants man, you tink a carnival dis.”
3. Most Jamaicans with delusions of grandeur are either politicians or sports personalities
It takes a certain amount of madness to selflessly commit yourself to a higher calling. There are some who would say this madness is deeply seated in delusions of grandeur. Luckily for us most of the mental cases like that are either stuck in sports or attempting to find their footing in politics. You can clearly see that some of these politicians and sporting personalities were born to be in a leotard but extenuating circumstances and life choices have forced them to don disguises. Mama P for example has an infectious hug similar Zangief and the leader of the opposition Andrew Holness has teleportation capabilities similar to Nightcrawler, appearing and disappearing in the media seemingly at will. It’s almost as if we are cultured into believing that this is the preferred outlet for our unusual gifts and talents.
4. The Police
I have always wondered how the public infrastructure would respond to the appearance of superhero type figures. I have come to the conclusion that they along with other mythical figures would meet the same fate as other near mythical figures within Jamaican history: shot or incarcerated. Sandokhan, Marcus Garvey, and Paul Bogle are all clear examples of this. I suspect if we had our very own Caped Crusader he would be found one day suffering from gunshot wounds in nearby bushes after engaging police in a running gun battle that no one witnessed. Also recovered beside the body would be 4 spent shells and 2 live rounds as well as a Smith and Wesson snub nosed revolver with the serial number erased.
Now provided that our superhero is up to any good. I suspect that if the police don’t get to him first, JFJ will find some way of either bringing public or legal pressure to bear for him/her to cease and desist from mischievous vigilante type behaviour which would be setting a bad precedent for the Jamaican youth. Since all criminals find their ‘comeupance’ at the hands of these vigilante figures, it would obviously run afoul of the JFJs expectation for due process which instead of being measured justice should be a lengthy and laborious execution of pin the tail on the public servant.
As we sift through the laughable attempts at stymying a burgeoning issue with crime and violence, we struggle with morality and generalizations. As not to get overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation “We tek bad sinting mek joke”. We may never be gifted with the panacea that a superhero may provide but that still does not stop us from dreaming of what could be or hoping aloud with our actions. Do something that impacts your little corner of the world positively. Hopefully collectively we will ultimately make a difference.