Friday, April 01, 2005

Quote from Alan Moore

Excerpt from An Interview With Alan Moore

That seems to be something that people don't understand about super-heroes---there is no perfection, you know? You can't be Superman unless you want to.

Well I think being Superman---I mean to even be a superior being---it's not actually to do with having powers or to believe. You've already got powers. All of us have incredible abilities, talents, things that can achieve miraculous things. Most of us, yeah, we've got all of these superpowers and we never do anything: we sit down on the sofar and watch TV, and drink beer and zone out---and I suppose that if we had got telepahty or super-breath or the power of flight or invulnerability, we'd probably still sit on the sofar and watch TV and drink beer. It's like, most people, it wouldn't matter whether they did rescue a dying alien, jet rocketing here with babies from an exploding planet, or find the magic flying ring or whatever, it wouldn't matter, because it's not heroism or super-heroism or just simply being a decent person. It's nothing to do with gaining special powers to do this with.

If you are a fully aware and awake human being, you will see the quite marvelous powers that you, as an ordinary human being, already have at your disposal. And you'll see how you are using those powers or not using them. Now, I mean, there's plenty of people on this planet---I mean, in terms of what they could accomplish---how much below fictional Superman does say, Bill Gates rate? Bill Gates has this superpower of immense wealth. Now you've got that much money, am I right in thinking that you could pretty much do anything?

Sure.

And Bill Gates is not the only sort of fantastically rich person on the face of the planet, so these are people who have superpowers. When have they saved the world, ended hunger, done magnificent, massive gestures---did they even save a snoopy girl reporter from falling out of a window? They didn't. We have people with super-powers on this planet and they're not necessarily superior people. On the other hand we have some people on this planet who would seem to be completely disadvantaged and not have anything going for them anmd yet they've accomplished fantastic acts.

I'd like people to actually think about, what does heroism mean? What is power? Does Stephen Hawking have a super-power? I mean, he would seem to me upon the available evidence to be much smarter than, say, Superman or Brainiac 5. Ands he's even iun a wheelchair, so he could join the X-men or the Doom Patrol, or any of those kind of differently-abled friendly super outfdits.

The super-powers don't really matter at the end of the day, it's the characters that are important. Just as it doesn't really matter whether me or you or the reader ever gains the ability to run faster than light and get a neat costume. That won't make any difference to us. If we're an asshole now, all we will be then is an asshole in a neat costume who can run faster than light. This is not going to really improve the universe any, you know? The important thing is that ordinary human beings are fanatastic. They are fantastic in what they can do and what they can be. They can do fantastic things to their world for good or ill. They don't need powers. They don't need outfits and chest insignia. With things like Watchmen and a lot of my subsequent work I've tried to sort of suggest that. That habing superpowers wouldn't necessarily make you a nice person and that ordinary human beings are what we've got to work with: we don't have any superheroes here.

Source: The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore, pg. 118

Post script in 2012: Bill Gates has indeed done amazing things with his money since.
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