March 2016: A hero we can believe in
The first time I ever went to the cinema was to watch Christopher Reeve star as the hero in Superman III. It was 1983, the Cold War was in full swing, and every school kid in the UK was scared witless by the public information films about what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Looking back it was a pretty harsh thing to inflict on impressionable minds, since there was nothing you could do in the event of a Soviet missile strike. Taping up the windows or hiding under a table would in no way forestall Armageddon and everyone knew it, including the children.
No wonder we relished the make-believe world of Hollywood, where a handsome guy in a red cape could forestall any dangers that came our way. This was a simple place where good always triumphed over evil and the nice guy got the girl.
Reeve was the perfect actor for this role.
He had been an unknown when he signed on, which had a lot to do with his success. What he brought to the character was not so much depth, but more a blank slate on which we could project our hopes and dreams. He was whatever we needed him to be and, as a child of the Eighties, what I needed to know was that everything would ultimately be okay.
Three decades later and the world is still a confusing place in which to live. Here in the Middle East, we have regional conflict and oil prices that are so low they present a very real threat to entire economies. On a worldwide level we’ve never really recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. Ordinary people still shoulder the burden of debt and bad decisions for which they were not responsible.
That’s why you see previously unthinkable candidates enjoying support in so many countries where they have the vote, including, of course, the United States. When we planned this issue, we debated whether to include the Donald Trump feature at all. This was just before the Primaries began and our assumption was that his numbers would fall off a cliff when people actually voted. Well, that didn’t happen and, at the time of going to press, he is racing away with Republican nomination. Suddenly we’re all having to contemplate the idea of Trump as leader of the free world. And I think it goes without saying that someone who wants to ban all Muslims from entering America is not this region’s choice of president.
All of which means we are still very much in need of a superhero to lift us from the gloom. And into the breach, for a second time, steps Henry Cavill. He did an admirable job last time, even though it’s a thankless task being compared to Reeve. I thoroughly enjoyed his first outing and can’t wait to see the follow-up. Especially since meeting him at a fashion event a couple of months ago, where he was friendly, unassuming and bordering on shy even though he was the best-looking guy in the room. Very much like Clark Kent, in fact.
For that reason he gets my vote, unlike Trump who I hope is plummeting in the polls by the time you read this issue. That would be change I could believe in.
- Jeremy Lawerence, Editor-in-chief
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