The Dominance of Amorality or How to be a Superhero

 

Do you realize how difficult it must be to become an amoral person in a Judeo-Christian country? Depending on your viewpoint about morality, it seems like you would have to be raised in a cave to avoid exposure to moral and immoral ideas. And then I realized that the usual places where a child would receive moral instructions are disappearing: the nuclear family (which is falling apart), religious institutions (which are denigrated and ridiculed), and the education system (which has been corrupted by Marxism and other socialist ideologies).

Instead of growing up with traditional morality, people are free to make up their own beliefs and standards. And some do. But I’d like to step back and spend some time looking at the outcome of creating our own morality, and reflect on the daunting path we have to travel to overcome the dominance of amorality and resurrecting the commitment to morality.

First, I’ve always had difficulty understanding the definition of amorality. How can people admit they have no moral distinctions or judgments, ideas which are neither moral nor immoral? Even if the usual learning venues aren’t available, there are a myriad of social and cultural avenues for being exposed to morality.

Or are there?

The blatant denial of G-d, never mind religion, is probably the most obvious absence of a model for morality. When you don’t have G-d to set the moral standard, who or what will? One of the most obvious cultural examples that came to mind is the superhero. And we just happen to have a new Spider-Man movie that’s been released.

Now I admit I’m not a fan of superheroes (although I did have a crush on Superman on television). All that aside, what does admiring a superhero have to do with the absence of G-d? I propose that for many people, the superhero becomes their G-d.

It’s important to distinguish between admiration for some of the traits of the superhero, and actually worshipping the hero himself. From reading some reviews of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Spider-Man is a flawed but powerful hero—just the kind of approachable deity that many people would prefer. He could be your next-door neighbor, or your co-worker. He could even be you:

‘No other superhero has this many defeats, blunders and outright fiascos to his name,’ he continued. ‘Superman always saves the day. Spider-Man usually does too — but often at a terrible personal cost.’

It’s those flaws that allows this comic book character to continue to resonate with fans 60 years after his debut, Singer says. In ‘No Way Home,’ Parker makes many mistakes, but he never stops trying to fix them.

Beyond these factors, I understand the movie focuses on illegal immigration. One review that struck me makes a revealing point about illegal immigration:

‘If we send them back, they’ll die,’ Peter states at one point, summarizing the moral obligation to help those dispossessed individuals fleeing tyranny and oppression. The movie’s climactic battle takes place at the Statue of Liberty, with Peter explicitly drawing attention to how the monument is a beacon to ‘second chances.’ It is a living reminder of America’s often unfulfilled promise to those ‘masses yearning to breathe free.’ It’s a refreshingly bold take for a movie like this.

So, let’s see what we have here: a god-like figure who suggests we are betraying our US tradition and heritage; a reviewer who wants to make sure that we admire this god-like hero who wants to let immigrants stay but has no idea what to do with them (according to the movie description), while throwing in anti-American comments, too; but the important point is that the superhero wants to be compassionate and help them. The cost and consequences are irrelevant.

*     *     *     *

What does all this have to do with amorality? It demonstrates the degree to which our culture is floundering to find heroes to admire, but those following the Left have no idea of how morality factors in. Instead, they can be their own gods, make their own contrived moral choices. They believe they are empowered to decide what is right or wrong or good and bad. They’ll lead riots or burn down buildings for the benefit of society; or they’ll attack conservatives to drive out evil. Or they’ll let some superhero like George Floyd step in for them and they’ll just admire him from a distance.

Ultimately, though, my hope is that those who think they follow in the paths of superheroes with their own narcissistic, righteous beliefs will realize that the outcomes aren’t real. The spiritual rewards are empty. The accomplishments are destructive and alienating.  But one day they may suspect they’ve been misguided. Finding one’s way to true morality has no entrance fee or operating hours; one only has to take the first step. Those who do are the real superheroes.

And G-d will be waiting.

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  1. She Member
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn: Finding one’s way to true morality has no entrance fee or operating hours; one only has to take the first step. Those who do are the real superheroes.

    Amen.  Wonderful post.

    • #1
  2. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    Susan Quinn:

    And G-d will be waiting.

    Word up.

     

     

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    And G-d will be waiting.

    Word up.

     

     

    ??

    • #3
  4. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Susan Quinn:

    Beyond these factors, I understand the movie focuses on illegal immigration. One review that struck me makes a revealing point about illegal immigration:

    ‘If we send them back, they’ll die,’ Peter states at one point, summarizing the moral obligation to help those dispossessed individuals fleeing tyranny and oppression. The movie’s climactic battle takes place at the Statue of Liberty, with Peter explicitly drawing attention to how the monument is a beacon to ‘second chances.’ It is a living reminder of America’s) often unfulfilled promise to those ‘masses yearning to breathe free.’ It’s a refreshingly bold take for a movie like this.

    So, let’s see what we have here: a god-like figure who suggests we are betraying our U.S. tradition and heritage; a reviewer who wants to make sure that we admire this god-like hero who wants to let immigrants stay but has no idea what to do with them (according to the movie description), while throwing in anti-American comments, too; but the important point is that the superhero wants to be compassionate and help them. The cost and consequences are irrelevant.

    I can normally see some of the liberal messages in movies but this read on the film takes a bit of reaching.  Especially in the end while the “villains” were cured of their various insanity they were eventually sent back to their respective universes in order to save all universes.  The better liberal read is that people are not evil but are instead mentally ill and can be cured with some work.  

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    I can normally see some of the liberal messages in movies but this read on the film takes a bit of reaching.  Especially in the end while the “villains” were cured of their various insanity they were eventually sent back to their respective universes in order to save all universes.  The better liberal read is that people are not evil but are instead mentally ill and can be cured with some work.  

    Since I didn’t see the movie, John, I can’t speak to the rest of the plot. Your interpretation makes sense. But then, I heard there are conflicting messages. Maybe that shows the conflicts that people have between immorality, morality and amorality.

    • #5
  6. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    And G-d will be waiting.

    Word up.

     

     

    ??

    From the Urban Dictionary:

    word up – I comprehend what you are saying and verify that your statement is true, my good sister/brother.

    You’re welcome.

     

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    From the Urban Dictionary:

    word up – I comprehend what you are saying and verify that your statement is true, my good sister/brother.

    You’re welcome.

    I’ve never been acknowledged in quite that way, Ronin. Thanks so much! To be understood for speaking truth is very special.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    From the Urban Dictionary:

    word up – I comprehend what you are saying and verify that your statement is true, my good sister/brother.

    You’re welcome.

    Lovely. Thank you ( slightly delayed).

    • #8
  9. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    I don’t think people see superheroes as gods.  Role models, yes, but not divine.  Spiderman has a moral code, but he’s not a perfect adherent of it – he is fallible and mortal. 

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    I don’t think people see superheroes as gods. Role models, yes, but not divine. Spiderman has a moral code, but he’s not a perfect adherent of it – he is fallible and mortal.

    Maybe. But you are a rational, religious person of the Right. I doubt those on the Left would call them gods. Or even admit they feel that way about them. But I’m not convinced that superheroes have not become part of the Left’s religion. I explained why they like fallible gods, too. But we can disagree, Omega.

    • #10
  11. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    I don’t think people see superheroes as gods. Role models, yes, but not divine. Spiderman has a moral code, but he’s not a perfect adherent of it – he is fallible and mortal.

    It’s not just super heros.  It is the tv / movie medium.  We used to read the Bible and great literature to get our morality.  Now we watch video and be taught this. The Left knows this, it is why we are getting all the the gay stuff and other moral lesson.  Even our history is taught this way with series that trash the past.  Downton Abby, The Tudors, Borgias are considered true history by the masses and replace actual history.

    • #11
  12. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I saw it, and quite liked it. I like the redemptive message, both for the villains and for the hero.

    Spiderman is flawed because he keeps trying but with decidedly mixed results. I prefer superheroes to be like him, because at least in mental state, there is nothing “super” about them at all. Spiderman is a kid.

    One of the other moral messages of the movie is that killing is no joke, and you can never go back. Mastering yourself and your own anger is the hardest challenge of all – a message I thoroughly endorse. Cain was given the very same message.

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Another facet I enjoyed is that Spiderman in this movie is no one-man show. He needs other people – including his goofy sidekick, Aunt May, and others. In the classic Superman story, mere mortals are reduced to spectators. Not so in this Spiderman.

    • #13
  14. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I find it interesting that nobody mentioned the quasi homosexual scene between several of the spidermen under the guise of “back cracking”.  

     

    • #14
  15. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    btw, I really like superheroes. I grew up with Spiderman and have watched and enjoyed most of the Whedon/Marvel movies. 

    But the price of superheroes is the diminishment of real life heroes: they just aren’t that amazing – not when compared to the definitionally Amazing Spiderman™. 

    • #15
  16. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Meh.  It’s not a great example.

    Superheroes have been around for centuries.  They just weren’t called superheroes.  The Greek and Norse gods are good examples of beings imbued with both good and bad very human traits.  The weakness of those religions is those gods did not have a divine personality.  They just had power, and they were just as amoral in their conduct.  Today’s superheroes really aren’t worshipped the way the Greeks and the Norse worshipped theirs, if for no other reason that we live in a less superstitious age.  Indeed, one of the Marvel Superheroes includes the Norse gods — Thor, Loki, and Odin, and even the Greek demi-god Hercules and Zeus has made an appearance in that pantheon.

    The more influential secular religions is the environmental one, and those focused on racism.  Their flaw is that they focus on one wrong over any other, and therefore justify other sins to fight that one wrong.

    They think they can attain perfection on earth with the result that they end up making things worse.  By comparison superhero idolization (not worship) is small bier.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    TBA (View Comment):
    But the price of superheroes is the diminishment of real life heroes: they just aren’t that amazing – not when compared to the definitionally Amazing Spiderman™. 

    I agree with you. Too often if we do identify heroes, they’re really not heroes, either. They happen to be people fell into circumstances or happened to show up and saved themselves.

    I don’t dislike superheroes. It’s just not my thing.

    I had another thought, too. I think it was @omegapaladin who believed that the Left wasn’t making the superheroes into gods or believing they were divine. I don’t think you have to be divine to qualify as somebody’s god. In fact, let me check on the meaning of “divine.”

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    The weakness of those religions is those gods did not have a divine personality. 

    That’s fine, except what is a divine personality? Divine can refer to a Supreme Being, but it can also refer to everyday gods with special powers. We may be less superstitious because we’ve subsituted idolatry for ideology. Wouldn’t you say the Progressive ideologues in leadership are fashioning themselves after the superheroes with the things they are saying they can and will do?

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I also find it interesting that the prevalence of amorality hasn’t gotten much attention in this post. Even if you don’t like my premise on superheroes, aren’t you concerned with the domination of amorality? 

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I also find it interesting that the prevalence of amorality hasn’t gotten much attention in this post. Even if you don’t like my premise on superheroes, aren’t you concerned with the domination of amorality?

    If you deny the basis for every morality, you remove the need to examine your own. You can rely on your feelings. Your feelings change? Then so does your morality. Nice and simple.

    The unexamined life is less complex.

    — Socrates’ neighbor, Dontgivatos.

    • #20
  21. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    “We are the apotheosis we’ve been waiting for.” – excerpt from A Chorus of Millions, first draft 

    • #21
  22. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I also find it interesting that the prevalence of amorality hasn’t gotten much attention in this post. Even if you don’t like my premise on superheroes, aren’t you concerned with the domination of amorality?

    Susan, I’m not sure that I observe a problem with amorality.  I may be incorrect about this, but it is my impression.  I observe a problem with immorality, based on my own view of proper morality.  Most people seem to have some sort of moral code, but many appear to believe in a code that is very different than mine.

    What I observe is a group — actually, two major groups — who preach “tolerance” as a virtue, and seem to advocate a live-and-let-live approach to morality.  There are the Leftists (now, notably, the Wokeists), and the Libertarians.  However, neither group seems to tolerate disagreement with the values that they find important.  This appears inconsistent, to me, but it doesn’t seem to bother them.

    I’m not sure if there’s any notable group that I would classify as amoral.  Perhaps anarchists, but these seem to be few and far between, and most seem to be aiming at some sort of neo-Marxist utopia.  Perhaps the extreme Libertarians, meaning the anarcho-capitalist types, but this is also a very small group, and they generally seem to advocate the basic Libertarian rule prohibiting the use of force or fraud, but are more skeptical than other Libertarians about the small, night-watchman type of state that other Libertarians advocate.

    It is very difficult to develop a coherent moral framework.  I don’t think that it can be done, technically, without some sort of foundation that is fundamentally religious, meaning a set of virtues or values that must be assumed as a matter of faith.  Those of a secular mindset will use different terminology, such as asserting that certain values are “self-evident,” but they’re not actually self-evident.

    • #22
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):
    But the price of superheroes is the diminishment of real life heroes: they just aren’t that amazing – not when compared to the definitionally Amazing Spiderman™.

    I agree with you. Too often if we do identify heroes, they’re really not heroes, either. They happen to be people fell into circumstances or happened to show up and saved themselves.

    I don’t dislike superheroes. It’s just not my thing.

    I had another thought, too. I think it was @ omegapaladin who believed that the Left wasn’t making the superheroes into gods or believing they were divine. I don’t think you have to be divine to qualify as somebody’s god. In fact, let me check on the meaning of “divine.”

    Superhero teams do tend towards pantheon, even without obvious deities like Thor. 

    That said, there is considerable overlap between pantheons, sit-com families, and commedia dell’art as well. Mismatched extremists who can’t get away from each other is the basis of all stories and possibly also Ricochet. 

    • #23
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I also find it interesting that the prevalence of amorality hasn’t gotten much attention in this post. Even if you don’t like my premise on superheroes, aren’t you concerned with the domination of amorality?

    Susan, I’m not sure that I observe a problem with amorality. I may be incorrect about this, but it is my impression. I observe a problem with immorality, based on my own view of proper morality. Most people seem to have some sort of moral code, but many appear to believe in a code that is very different than mine.

    What I observe is a group — actually, two major groups — who preach “tolerance” as a virtue, and seem to advocate a live-and-let-live approach to morality. There are the Leftists (now, notably, the Wokeists), and the Libertarians. However, neither group seems to tolerate disagreement with the values that they find important. This appears inconsistent, to me, but it doesn’t seem to bother them.

    I’m not sure if there’s any notable group that I would classify as amoral. Perhaps anarchists, but these seem to be few and far between, and most seem to be aiming at some sort of neo-Marxist utopia. Perhaps the extreme Libertarians, meaning the anarcho-capitalist types, but this is also a very small group, and they generally seem to advocate the basic Libertarian rule prohibiting the use of force or fraud, but are more skeptical than other Libertarians about the small, night-watchman type of state that other Libertarians advocate.

    It is very difficult to develop a coherent moral framework. I don’t think that it can be done, technically, without some sort of foundation that is fundamentally religious, meaning a set of virtues or values that must be assumed as a matter of faith. Those of a secular mindset will use different terminology, such as asserting that certain values are “self-evident,” but they’re not actually self-evident.

    Much like ‘being the bad guy’, most people want to view themselves as moral. 

    No matter who gets hurt. 

    • #24
  25. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Human beings and their actions are either moral, or immoral because they have a conscience. Animals are driven by instinct. Your dog or cat knows when you’re upset, they don’t exactly know why your upset.

    Amoral is a term used to rationalize immoral acts, whether it the actor who rationalizes an action, or the observer that cannot understand why someone commits an immoral act.  

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Human beings and their actions are either moral, or immoral because they have a conscience. Animals are driven by instinct. Your dog or cat knows when you’re upset, they don’t exactly know why your upset.

    Amoral is a term used to rationalize immoral acts, whether it the actor who rationalizes an action, or the observer that cannot understand why someone commits an immoral act.

    That’s different from the formal definition, Doug, but it makes more sense to me. Thanks.

    • #26
  27. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    The weakness of those religions is those gods did not have a divine personality.

    That’s fine, except what is a divine personality? Divine can refer to a Supreme Being, but it can also refer to everyday gods with special powers. We may be less superstitious because we’ve subsituted idolatry for ideology. Wouldn’t you say the Progressive ideologues in leadership are fashioning themselves after the superheroes with the things they are saying they can and will do?

    My reading of the Greek gods is they exhibited many of the base traits normal humans do, including jealousy, especially jealousy – though the Old Testament does describe G-d as a jealous G-d.  It doesn’t seem to be a petty jealousy as exhibited by the Greeks “superheroes” or “supervillians.”

    The progressives do idolize their political leaders and we’ve seen this with the U.S. presidency with his own throne room (Oval Office) and magic chariot (Air Force One).  So it seems like there’s an overlap.  In the end, though, the president needs his magic chariot to fly, as well as his other majestic symbols to enhance his political power.

    There’s a reason why presidents have been compared to kings, and they too displayed a majesty to awe their subjects.  And Christian kings (and Chinese Emperors with their mandate of heaven) did claim a divine right.  The Old Testament’s King David did too, while still breaking the societal and religious rules of his day.

    A superhero is essentially a fictional character without a mob of followers.  A superhero’s powers are individual in nature.  I’ve focused on Greek gods as a historical antecedent, but the cowboy of the old west is a more recent example — the legend not the reality — is similar.  These are fictional individuals that are outside the society of their day, not a part of it.

    My original point is that while idolization of superheroes isn’t a good thing, I do think that the worship of “kings” whether elected or not, is more harmful.  And given that superhero idolization is mostly what boys go through in their adolescence (as did I) and get over when they have to support themselves in a job, my tendency is to downplay it.  Boys and girls do foolish things.  Men and women do too, but real life constrains them.

    Of course, my own experience with superheroes was mostly through comic books, and not through blockbuster movies, so maybe that means I am underestimating the harm.  But I don’t think so.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    Of course, my own experience with superheroes was mostly through comic books, and not through blockbuster movies, so maybe that means I am underestimating the harm.  But I don’t think so.

    Al, thank you for this more nuanced and detailed response. Your opening comment felt like a slap (maybe I’m overly sensitive) but this comment is thoughtful and gives me much to consider. I much prefer this one! 

    • #28
  29. J Climacus Member
    J Climacus
    @JClimacus

    I saw it last night with my daughter. I don’t typically enjoy superhero movies but it was an opportunity to do something with her.

    The theme seems to be the standard contemporary one of gnostic self-discovery, similar to that in Star Wars (Luke Skywalker) and Harry Potter. Spiderman is encouraged by his mother to believe in himself and his destiny, in defiance of more experienced authority in the form of a wizard. The result is that Spiderman corrupts a spell the wizard was casting, unleashing potential disaster on our world. In true gnostic fashion, the lesson Spiderman draws is not that he should have humbly submitted to wiser authority in the first place, but that he needs to double-down on “believing in himself” and fix things using the same type of efforts that got him into trouble in the first place. Things get worse, but he’s helped by alter-ego Spidermen from other universes. They take timeout from their quest to fix the world to have a therapy session, where they share their own journeys of self-discovery. In the end, “believing in yourself” turns out to be the right answer and they save the world, after which the other Spidermen go back to their own universes. In the universe of the sovereign self, two Spidermen in any particular world is one Spiderman too many. 

    It’s definitely a tale for our time. Like Harry Potter, a lot of Spiderman’s problems arise because he is doing good, but is misunderstood by the close-minded. If only the Daily Bugle would understand how good Spiderman was, everything would be fine. It’s the same problem I have! The difficulty here is that once you’ve saved the world and everyone realizes how great you are, what do you do then? Like the dog chasing a car, once the gnostic self has discovered itself, it doesn’t know what to do, and so we need a reset where everyone goes back to misunderstanding the hero and he will have something to do.

    • #29
  30. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Al, thank you for this more nuanced and detailed response. Your opening comment felt like a slap (maybe I’m overly sensitive) but this comment is thoughtful and gives me much to consider. I much prefer this one! 

    My opening comment wasn’t meant as a slap.  I’m glad you got something from my subsequent post.

    • #30
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