In the spirit of Halloween it’s a good time to discuss what scares people. Everyone enjoys a good scare provided it’s a safe and controlled one. Beyond silly stuff like monsters however is the real horror; the fear of the unknown. This manifests itself in several ways but I’m going to focus on masks both real and psychological.
Why are masks appealing? Why dress up as someone you are not? Masks aren’t new so you can’t just blame a modern festival. In antiquity masks were used from rituals to warfare. Masks are popular with primitives and advance people alike, so “civilization” or lack there of is not the answer. What it boils down to is escapism, concealment, transcendence, and more often than not, all three.
What makes someone behind a mask so powerful though? They’re mortal just like us and yet the unease they produce is undeniable. Do we mentally project some superhuman ability onto them? Yes. We realize that without being able to identify them they will be empowered to act.
There are a variety of masks as well some worn and others not. No one better represents them all than Batman. I’d say he’s the best superhero by far. His universe is realistic and believable. His villains are twisted and fascinating. We can all relate to his tragic origins even his extraordinary willpower are within the realm of possibility. However there is one aspect to his character that is seldom discussed. With other superheroes their personality barely changes when they put on their costume with the dark knight that’s not the case making him unique.
Batman is Bruce Wayne’s alter ego, right? Wrong. Bruce Wayne is the alter ego and Batman is his true identity. The dumb billionaire playboy act is the mask he puts on for the public. He hates it with a passion and only feels comfortable as Batman. In many ways we’re similar to him. We put on fake PC masks to conceal ourselves. His reality are the gritty streets of Gotham and ours is cyberspace. There will come a day when his city doesn’t need a masked crusader. There may come a day when we won’t need the internet. That day is not today, nor will it be tomorrow, or even several years from now, in the meantime keep up the masquerade.
- Batman: The Retrospective (nerdswole.wordpress.com)
- What A Masquerade! (mytruthfullwildheart.wordpress.com)
- Black and White Masquerade (goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com)
- Notes on Drewal’s “Gelede Masquerade: Imagery and Motif” (kjbarberblog.wordpress.com)
- Update from ART (crsg3.wordpress.com)
- Masks off! #18 – Catwoman unmasked by Bruce Wayne! (maskripper.wordpress.com)