The Thing I Like About …

Kick Ass:  the part where he saves the guy from the gang.

Regular guy Dave Lizewski has decided to put on a dorky-looking spandex outfit and patrol the city like a super-hero would do.  Of course, he has no super-powers, but he’s determined to make a difference.  He walks down a side street in the middle of the night, and witnesses a young man running for his life from three hoodlums.  The trio of bad guys start knock the man down and start beating him with pipes and kicking him.  Regular guy Dave Lizewski intervenes, placing himself between the fallen man and his attackers.

During the attack, a row of people in a nearby diner have lined up against the windows and are recording the assault with their various phones and cameras.  When Dave comes to the man’s aid, the bad guys threaten him too, and tells him if he’s crazy to defend someone he doesn’t even know.

“Three [of you],” he answers them. “Laying into one guy while everybody else watches? And you want to know what’s wrong with me?”

People now use technology to do really good things: to stay connected, to share laughter, to call for help in the middle of nowhere.  With a cellphone, an unarmed, petite witness can summon police to an assault without risking her (or his) own safety.  With a cellphone camera, people can provide testimony to crimes that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

But our technology has turned us into a spectator society; it doesn’t even occur to people to call for help.  Our “natural” fear of getting hurt convinces us so easily that our witness to an event is all that is required of us, and our egos do the rest:  we know that our videos of crimes will go viral and make us popular, and so we assume we’re doing something good – even if it’s only for ourselves.  We also get very used to seeing these countless videos – real and fake – without ever knowing the consequences to the people involved; we forget that what we’re seeing with our own eyes – even through a camera lens – is actually real, actually happening, and not just part of some show on YouTube.

Dave Lizewski’s actions are important – I’m sure the guy being pummeled was glad to have him there – but Dave’s words are even more important: they illustrate how ludicrous it is for people to line up cheerfully taking pictures of an event none of them would want to be part of themselves, but more to the point, they show that, in a spectator world, a person who takes action is able to transform events, to protect the innocent, to save the vulnerable.  In a world where everyone does nothing, a person who does anything is … well … a super-hero.

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