The other night Vanessa and I watched the indie documentary Confessions of a Superhero. It tells the story of four people struggling to break into the acting business. Rather than working at the Cheesecake Factory to pay the bills, these individuals dress up like superheros and have their pictures taken (for tips) with tourists on Hollywood Boulevard in front of Ming's Chinese Theater.
Superman - the uber-serious, memorabilia-collecting alleged son of an Oscar winning actress
Batman - the self-described George Clooney lookalike with quite a story of his mob-connected past
Wonder Woman - the daughter of a Baptist pastor who suddenly found that she is no longer the proverbial big fish
The Hulk - formerly homeless man who is convinced that his mis-sized teeth are keeping him from hitting it big
Watching these stories unfold, I was struck by several things. First, I am amazed at the lengths we go to to support ourselves. We live in quite a country where people can make somewhat of a living by panhandling for tips as makebelieve characters to tourists who must have more disposable income than I have.
Second, I am amazed at our cultural obsession with being famous. We really are addicted to making a name for ourselves. As the movie unfolds, you watch these individuals relish attention from media outlets such as Jimmy Kimmel, the local news, and various magazines. There is a pervasive desperation to get noticed in these stories that makes me wonder about how well our families, churches, and neighborhoods are doing at accepting and loving people. Maybe we have created this crisis.
Third, I am amazed at the delusion some people operate under. I don't mean to pick on these four people, but I was flat out dubious about some aspects of the stories they told. Was your mom really an actress? Did you really work for the mob? Did you really watch the riots from that mountain? Maybe it's me, or maybe it's that I'm pretty sure that people who wear masks for a living are hiding something.
Ultimately, Confessions of a Superhero left me sad. Sad for these four people. And sad for our culture that has created them.