Saturday, 27 April 2013

Na na na na na na na, na na na na na-na, Batman.

After covering Superman in his all-powerful red caped glory, I feel it appropriate to cover his dark counterpart, Batman.

Batman is probably the most popular and recognizable superhero on the planet, eclipsing all others with his popularity, badassery and cultural relevance. Batman is nearly always in more than one media, at the same time he appears in comics, he is also in a video game or a TV show or a movie or a cartoon. Only Spider-Man has as consistently appeared across so many platforms over the decades, although I would argue that after the ginormous critical and commercial success of The Dark Knight trilogy (not to mention the Arkham Asylum game series), Batman has surpass the Wall-Crawler, who unfortunately has never had an absolutely perfect video game, although he's had some good ones, and had his movie trilogy unnecessarily rebooted with a rehash of his origin story, despite the fact everyone and their granny knows it already and can we just see him shoot some web and punch some bad guys whilst dealing with existential teenage 'why does nobody love me?' angst?

But Batman has become the ultimate and most perfect superhero since he simply radiates awesome just because HE IS BATMAN. Over the years Batman has accumulated so much cool, so much pop cultural relevance, and so much pure badassness over such a layered and conflicting history spanning nearly 8 decades and all forms of media, that the mere fact that he is Batman serves as the reason for why he so amazing. There is no real need to compile a list of why Batman would beat Superman in a fight or why Batman can do any of the many things that no normal human being could do no matter how much training they did or natural ability they may have, you just need to state that "He is BATMAN." Conversation over.

This has become a running joke on "How It Should Have Ended" where Batman repeatedly stays his name or states, "Beacause I'm Batman!", as seen here in this compilation clip somebody, who I'm sure is legitimately named Dick Grayson, put together:

However, David Willis, the author of the webcomic, Shortpacked, has taken this conceptualisation of Batman's innate badassery to sensational and hilarious heights.
He's Batman.

This is the joke is its purest and simplest form. Note how the simple reiteration of Batman saying, "I'm Batman" over and over again produces humour by drawing on the fact Batman is awesome because he is Batman.
He has. He can.

And why can Batman breathe in space? Because he is Batman, that's why.

And as Shortpacked has proved time and time again, because of this accepted cultural agreement Batman can immediately make any situation funny. Instantly.
Bat Ballet.

No more needs to be said about this.

But this cultural agreement that Batman is amazing because he is Batman has filtered back to the medium that birthed him as illustrated in this page from an actually honest-to-Buddha DC comic after Batman came back from being lost in time:
Well, duh...

Of course he's right. He's Batman.

Friday, 5 April 2013

I'll Think of Something (Why is Everyone Wearing My Shirts?)

Okay, so I like to wear t-shirts with pop cultural iconography on them. That is, I like nerdy t-shirts with pictures of a storm-trooper's mask or the Tardis on them and I love my shirt with the non-ironic retro Batman logo. I enjoy wearing t-shirts that showcase the pop culture that I love and which on some level mark me out as an individual. Or they would, if everyone else would stop wearing my t-shirts.

I know that these shirts are mass produced and sold to a large audience, I haven't got them from a small independent website run by a balding fanboy, his collection of Nintendo games and a parakeet. I brought them from chain clothing stores that distributed licensed material by DC Comics, LucasFilms and so on. I get that. That does still not change the fact that I keep seeing people who have the same shirt as me with increased, and thus frightening, frequency in the past couple of months. One week I saw someone wearing my Doctor Who Tardis shirt on the Monday, my Stormtrooper mask shirt on the Tuesday, and on the Wednesday someone wore another-one-of-my-shirts-but-I-can't-remember-which-one-now-because-it-was-ages-ago-but-I'm-still-angry-about-it. Three of my t-shirts. On consecutive days. One right after the other. No gaps.

Now, I don't base my identity wholly on the t-shirt I wear or anything like that, although I do know how I dress constructs a sense of myself, for me and others. However, this is not what I'm annoyed about. I do not think that people are invading in on my identity as a pop culture nerd who loves comics, animation, films and sci-fi. Nor I am naive enough to think that I am the only one like that or part of a select few who know the ways of the nerd. Being a nerd/geek is almost mainstream now with the plethora of superhero movies and sci-fi shows being made, and geek culture is definitely no longer something you did in your mother's basement in shame (if it ever was). And this is actually what annoys me. The expansion of geek culture.

Because of the expansion of geekiness, more people are out being geeky, which is great but it means there is a dilution of the coolness of geeky things. It's not cool if everyone is doing it. So when I see someone wearing on of my t-shirts, it makes that t-shirt less cool to me simply because someone else is wearing it. No other reason. I don't get a inclusive feeling that I've found another true believer and want to share a knowing wink, just an irritation that someone else is wearing a t-shirt I own, therefore smooching off and diminishing the coolness of that shirt. Just to be clear, these haven't been cases when I have been wearing the shirt in question, and we look like we're bumped into each other on our way to a Comics Convention or the cafeteria on the Death Star. This is just when I've seen someone who had the audacity to purchase and wear a shirt that he should have known I own and therefore only I can wear in public because it is mine.

However, I know this is childish and stupid, especially because the cultural icons I love are not as niche or cult as they once were, and that I belong to a large group of people who identify as a nerd or geek. I'm just silly like that. To change the mood and distract you with more acts of silliness by me, here's a couple of photographs me in my t-shirts doing stuff.

"He gave us a signal." My face is blurry in this photo because my face molecules are vibrating at super-speed to protect my identity like Jay Garrick, the first Flash.

Here, I'm hoping that the blurred motion of my arms will distract you from my non-vibrating face. Oh, the lack of vibration. Sweet tingling vibration. (Side note: I actually haven't seen anyone wear this t-shirt aside from me, so its inclusion here is a bit of a misnomer)

Alright. That's me done. Sorry for the inconsequential rant on less than thrilling content that doesn't really matter to anyone that isn't me. Next time I'll focus on a TV show or an aspect of pop culture that intrigues me, like do Klingons have nipples or something...