Super-non-Hero: from Superpower to Ultra-Violence
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Superhero Media Reality Digital Culture Comic Narrative Practices The Plasticity of the Collective Body Imaginative Consciousness Sadism Masochism Visuality Violence Sympathy

How to Cite

Ocheretyany, K. (2020). Super-non-Hero: from Superpower to Ultra-Violence. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 2(3), 27-46.


From the very beginning, the superhero was the embodiment of the principles discovered by Nietzsche and Freud in nature and culture: the superman and the super-self. Considering that the concepts of “superman” and “Super-I” go back in their genealogy to Kantian categorical imperative, and that, as Lacan showed, has an obscene seamy side in the form of sadism. Superman’s superpower, read literally, is sadism: moral (as an imperative requirement) and physical (as the sum of the sufferings he can endure). However, this “superpower” responded to the violence that was released by society and allowed to accept, master, survive the echo of the Cold War, information wars, nuclear threats, mutations, new weapons and technology in general, etc. The situation changed when comics ceased to be a marginal phenomenon and turned into a matrix of digital media reality with its streams of images. The request for sadism, as a speech about violence without justification, was replaced by the discourse of a victim claiming sympathy (therefore being indistinguishable from the executioner) — masochism. Now a hero is more the one who suffered, not the one who overcame something. In such a situation, the superhero looks extremely suspicious and his superpower is equated with violence — hence the interest in the disasters caused by the use of this force. However, the “sadism” of his actions (i.e, destructive consequences) is a way to present a categorical imperative at the level of visual imaginative language.
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