Is There a Little Batman in Every Man?
Good news, guys-- the comic books cluttering up your bookcases might also be feeding your ego.
A new study found that men generally felt worse about their bodies after looking at pictures of Batman or Spider-Man, unless they felt a personal connection to that superhero. The study was conducted after similar findings occurred with women, who actually reported feeling skinnier after seeing pictures of a female celebrity that they "related to"-- which means that Batman is your Jennifer Aniston.
It makes sense-- the thing that Batman (and Jennifer) relatable is that we see them not as perfect, but as flawed people just doing the best they can. Batman's got issues. Issues involving dead parents, his role as the protector of an entire city, and even issues with women (his own kid is the grandson of one of his biggest foes) but damn it, Batman's still out there fighting the fight. Batman chose to be a superhero, and he reinforces the idea that if we just got our crap together, we could be a superhero in our own world.
I decided to ask some of my guy friends who are hardcore Batman fans -- comedians Pete Holmes, Matt Mira, and writer/producer Aaron Baker -- about their personal connection with the Caped Crusader. A peek under their personal cowl. Who better to ask about personal demons, issues and insecurities than a couple comedians?
What does Batman -- the person-- mean?
Pete: His parents were killed. Sounds like a villain backstory, doesn't it? But he CHOSE to do good (in a weird way, but still). Batman is belief and meaning. The Joker is anarchy and chaos.
Do you relate to Batman personally?
Matt: I identify with parts of Batman's persona -- [like] hiding behind a cowl while sticking up for what you think is right. I'm not a billionaire so I can't afford a butler and a suit and a fancy car with tear gas and laser guidance, so instead I use Twitter.
Aaron: I admire that Batman knows he is doing something right even if people (Alfred, Gordon, countless girlfriends) feel he isn't doing the right thing. I adore his confidence.
Pete: Yes, I do relate. As a comedian, we keep similar hours. As strange as this sounds, and I'm sure it's all going to sound strange, we're both fighting for "good" in that a good comedian can "save" an audience from a bad night out. Not "parents killed after you left the movies" bad, but bad. Also, there is a bare-bones-ness about being a comedian. We don't have superpowers, much like Batman. I know he's rich, but he only got good by kicking trees and crap for years (very similar to the open mic scene, trust me). Who the hell relates to Superman?
Do you think your love of Batman makes you love yourself more?
Aaron: He makes me feel up and down. When I watch him or read about him I am filled with adrenaline because I am picturing myself doing what he is doing. But when I look at myself and compare our lives it does depress me. I think, "He has made a mark on society and what have I done?" It may sound cliche, but sometimes Batman makes me feel like I can do what he does if I had the money and power. He is a normal person seeking justice (in the coolest way) I also like that his whole life is an adventure. He doesn't have down time. He doesn't sit in the Batcave watching Honey Boo Boo on one screen and CNN on the other. He is out there in the field getting stuff done. It also makes me feel like I need to watch less Honey Boo Boo.
Pete: Yes! I'm disturbed how much the symbol of Batman makes me feel so good. Batman puts on a suit and fights crime. Why? Well, why do anything? I get up and put on pants and brush my teeth and shower and... why? Because we both want all this to mean something! If we're like Batman and believe in something -- Gotham, justice, don't kill people, reason, sometimes even love -- it makes it easier to get ready for your job at H&R Block or go and patrol rooftops in a bat costume.
Matt: As a performer sometimes I feel like there are two versions of me and I can never be sure which is the real one. Just like people are never sure if he is Batman first and he just pretends to be Bruce Wayne. The only downside to admiring Batman? I end up feeling worse about my abs.
So what have we learned? We've learned that Batman represents both the best in men, but also the most human. And if Batman is flawed like we're flawed, then I guess that means we're all Batman. What do you think? Tell us in the comments what Batman means to you, and if not Batman, who you look to as the most ideal version of who a man could be.
[Side Note - This topic hits very close to home for Pete, who actually is Batman.]