Sunday, March 14, 2010

Does This Cape Make My Butt Look Fat?

Gabriella Herkert
Catnapped and Doggone

Who is my favorite super hero? I suppose that depends on how we define super hero. Yes, it is the quibbling lawyer in me but I am always looking for the linguistic loophole. To me, hero means extraordinary, with a commitment to his friends, his family and his world unmatched by his neighbors. A hero is bold, brilliant and sincerely modest about it. He's humble and hilarious. Heroes are magic.

If we’re talking old school – capes and super powers, I’ve got to go with my “man” Underdog. He came the farthest. Clark Kent spent his days as a reporter, chasing stories and making a real living, working in a job where his boss wasn’t too concerned about his current whereabouts and where Clark always knew he’d make the rent. Ditto, Bruce Wayne who was rich and eccentric with a butler to cover for him. Underdog was a working class super hero. As Shoeshine Boy, he wasn’t breaking the bank with his take home and probably didn’t have benefits. No matter how much time he spent saving the day, he was still going to have to put in some hours on his knees buffing and shining or there wasn’t going to be any kibble on the table that night.

Underdog had a better lover interest. Peter Parker is dating an actress. We all know how flaky they can be. Then there are the female super heroes and their bad dating choices. Wonder Woman hooks up with Steve Trevor played by Lyle Waggoner of all people. This is a guy who laughed so hard at Tim Conway’s antics on the Carol Burnett show he couldn’t actually deliver his lines. Is this the man for WW or should she try Then, there’s Jeannie from I Dream of fame. Is anyone buying J.R. Ewing as a successful astronaut? Working for the brilliant minds of NASA who don’t see anything the least bit odd about a relationship between one of their own and a harem pant wearing blinking blonde who refers to her boyfriend as “master?” Underdog undertakes his daring deeds for Sweet Polly Purebred. Sweet and pure, now there’s a reason for a dog to get up in the morning.

Finally, there are the villains. Batman can’t take a Penguin? Superman is felled by a rock that doesn’t even have to hit him in the head? These baddies are mere cartoons compared to the likes of Simon Bar Sinister or Riff Raff. Underdog’s nemeses are genuine mutts. And on style points, Underdog takes it going away. He challenges in rhyme! He’s got all the real talent of both G.I. Joe and Dr. Seuss. Plus, he can fly and is a snappy dresser. Un-der-dog! Un-der-dog!

Of course, there are super heroes made of flesh and blood. Teenager William Kamkwamba brought electricity, education and hope to his entire village by building a windmill he made from trash using a design he found in a library book written in a language he couldn’t read. Muhammed Yunus practically invented the microloan and offered an escape from poverty to thousands one hundred dollars at a time without ever losing his initial investment. There’s also Norman Borlaug who found a way to raise dwarf wheat which wouldn’t collapse under its own weight during the rainy season in India and Pakistan, two countries with, at that time, some of the world’s highest rates of child mortality due to malnutrition. The number of lives he saved is unquantifiable. When these people released damsels in distress tied to train tracks, they stayed free. They stayed alive. They lived to fight another day for themselves. Some of them got the chance to pass on what gifts they’d been given. They may not have Saturday morning cartoons dedicated to them, but Underdog would welcome them into the pack at any time.

Thanks for reading.



Joshua Corin said...

Underdog is definitely the superhero with the best theme song. Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you, 1960s Spider-Man. Underdog's theme is better.

Gabi said...

Now I'm going to have that stuck in my head all least there's something in there!

Joshua Corin said...

Having a 60s theme song stuck in your head beats having a 90s boy band song stuck in your head. I need to make my ear worm go bye-bye-bye.

Shane Gericke said...

Woo-hoo, another Underdog fan. I knew you were just too cool, Gabi.

I liked your comment about his day job being Shoeshine Boy, as opposed to Richie Rich. It really was refreshing seeing a blue-collar guy make good.

Polly Purebred seemed pretty modern for a female cartoon character in those times. She had a job, and wasn't married, and she dressed in a businesslike way. She acted sensibly, not like an airhead. All good.

Gabi said...

Could be worse. You might Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. That's a three-day jag.

Gabi said...


We're kindred spirits. I always knew it.

Shane Gericke said...

Yes, yes, kindred spirits. As long as we don't pick up Josh's ear worms in the process :-)

Kelli Stanley said...

Gabi, that was one moving post ... thanks for reminding us what true heroism is. :)

You rock, sweetie!!