So, you ask, "What is this Real Life Super Hero thing anyway...?"
Not much is know regarding exactly when the modern incarnation of the first RLSH put on a uniform and hit the streets to make the world a better place. What we are certain of, is that late in the last century, ordinary people decided that the insidious few million were intimidating the billions of decent citizens in the world who only want to live in peace. Armed only with home-made weapons, colorful monikers, and iron determination, they set out into their respective communities to set things right. Read on, to see just what it means to be a RLSH, in their own words.
WHAT WE AREby Entomo, RLSH. (Naples, Italy)
The term Real Life Superhero is variously applied to real-world people who dress and/or act like comic book superheroes. Sometimes, this label is bestowed upon them by those whom they have helped or the media, while at other times, the aspiring superheroes apply the label to themselves.
Some media reports have focused on an Internet-based community that's developed around creating superheroic identities and helping others. These people wear masks or otherwise disguise themselves in order to perform "heroic deeds" like community services or fighting crime when they come across it.
(From Wikipedia entry on RLSH).
That's what Wikipedia reports and - to a certain extent - it is true. Officially, a Real Life Superhero is whoever chooses to embody the values presented in superheroic comic books, not only by donning a mask/costume, but also performing good deeds for the communitarian place whom he inhabits. You don't necessarily need to engage in a violent fight to be a crime fighter - you might patrol and report whatever crime you see. So basically, terms like "good deed" or "crime fighting" are open to various interpretations. Many of the Real Life Superheroes retain peculiar characteristics, abilities, special training and paranormal faculties that make them even closer to their comic book counterparts.
Since Stan Lee's TV Program “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?” has gained tremendous popularity in U.S.A, lots of people who invented superhero personas popped-up in recent times. Some of them are quitting the search for fame in order to "employ" their alter-egos in RLSH-like performances, thus becoming Real Life Superheroes by all means. So the borderline is heavily blurring in favor of the predominant tendency "to get real". MySpace is augmenting the movement by the establishment of a valid communication network between the Real Life Superheroes scattered all across the world.
WHAT WE DO:
Crime fighting patrols and/or reporting illegal actions to Police. Fliers asking for help with specific unsolved crimes. Missing person’s fliers. Promoting social/environmental awareness. Helping the homeless with food/water/blankets. Donating blood
WHY THE RLSH WAY
In my mind, Superhero personas (not just dull "codenames"; "personas" meant as "personalities"), costumes and mystique are what make you DIFFERENT (and not superior) from 99% of the people out there who perform good deeds or even crime fighting.
True, you don't need a costume to become the "hero" you feel to be inside --- but, at a certain point of your life, you might feel the impulse to physically manifest that same "hero" in order to live better with yourself and round out a process of psychological growth. A Superheroic persona is the excellent VEHICLE to release the hidden identity you keep locked in some departments of your soul since the day of your birth. Once this identity has been revealed to world, you're ready to embrace your destiny: you're stronger, you're more confident, you can do EVERYTHING you want for the sake of those you care for and the values you stand for. It's not just a revelation/manifestation. By doing so, you're providing people with a real symbol, and yourself with somewhat of a "self-avatar", one million of times stronger than your former "civilian-self".
Inspiration plays a major role in this, of course. You can inspire people to believe in a symbol. You can inspire people to believe they can CREATE themselves a symbol and embody it --- and it's not a lie. It's all true. It's the projection of an internal truth. Everyone can lead his/her own destiny. We're pawns of ourselves on the great, universal chessboard. It's up to us to establish if the great game of reality must end in good or evil.
WHAT DEFINES US?by Phantom Zero, RLSH. (NJ)
Some real life super heroes are vigilantes who literally fight crime, hand to hand.
Some do detective work, going undercover and collecting findings, anonymously reporting said info to the authorities or exposing corrupt bureaucracies.
Some act as neighborhood watch, their presence on the street a deterrent, reporting dangerous crimes as concerned citizens.
Some are endorsed by local and state law enforcement, their role being predominantly that of a symbolic doer of good-- visiting school children, attending state events, and supporting town sponsored events and programs.
Some support causes in the form of collecting charity or raising awareness about a certain subject.
Some donate time to do community service in any number of forms.
...and the list goes on and on and on.
All the above are likely Real Life Super Heroes. And as such, Real Life Super Heroes can fall into a broad spectrum of individuals.
So what, then, defines a Real Life Super Hero? I can discern a few common threads. One, is they have a specific identifiable heroic motif. I've seen this range from near-plain clothed people with a touch of panache (like a domino mask) to individuals in utilitarian police or military gear, to bright four color symbol-on-chest Spandex clad cape wearing heroes right out of a comic book.
I suppose the reasoning behind the heroic identity is varied. People may be influenced by the ideals of heroes in comic books, people may wish to express individuality though the medium of their costume, people may have a deep personal meaning tied to their motif, people may want the anonymity of a secret identity, people may wanting clothes which will allow them to hide in shadows, people may want armor to protect themselves, or any number of reasons....
..and the list goes on and on and on.
The heroic uniform is significant because it is an identifying trait. To be identified as a super heroic character, a heroic personae, name and all, is important. Super heroes are culturally significant and iconic. Society associates the super hero with "good," and as such that identity likely aids any mission.
What separates a uniform from a costume is intent. A uniform is garb with a purpose. It embodies a concept. It plays a role in one's life. While wearing a costume cool, comforting, or fun--a costume doesn't make you a hero.
A uniform is an aspect of being a real life superhero. One's image is important, but by far it's not the most important component of heroism.
The most important aspect of being a Real Life Super Hero is as simple as this:
You selflessly serve a pro social mission.
It's not about conquering groups of people to display your physical or martial prowess.
It's not about having scads of cutting edge technology at one's disposal.
It's not about training one's mind to the limits of human perfection so they can out think everyone and everything that comes their way.
It's about being a champion of good (and almost everyone has the capacity to do a little good every day). The reward one receives from doing good deeds is the deed itself, the service to the greater good, and the benefit that said service offers to mankind.
At least, in my mind, that is what being a Real Life Super Hero is.
WHY DO I DO THIS?by Geist, RLSH. (MN)
Heroes are about the needs of OTHERS, and not ourselves. Not me. And not for our self-gratification. I could ask a number of Heroes about how their best-attempts went and they'd probably have the same answer as me. "It could have went better if..."
Hindsight is 20/20. And we all learn to do better or be more prepared the next time.
I could ask a Hero out of costume how their day went and they might say, "It really sucked because..."
But I could ask the same person in-costume and they'd say, "It rocked! because..."
WHY DO I DO THIS?
Because someone's gotta do something.
Because I like to see people smile when I can help, especially the kids.
Because I don't want to die wishing I would have done something.
Because I didn't want to miss the opportunity to have the true friends that I've found here on Heroes
Network and Myspace, Herolinks and various other places.
Because I have a couple of Loved Ones who know about this whole deal who support me and I want to make them very proud.
Because there's crime on the streets and I want to see what I can do about it.
Because there are hungry people and I can help them.
Because there are children with cancer and I might make their days brighter.
Because I needed to patrol Manhattan and Central Park last year in full costume solo before Superheroes
Anonymous 1. Because there's a guy I've come to know who lives under a bridge, Thomas, who looks forward to meeting me again each and every time. Because the kitties and puppies need the food and litter I bring them and the staff is getting accustomed to seeing me. Because gang graffitti needs to be painted over. (Caution Newbies: It's a DIRECT and potentially lethal inslult to the gang.) Because I wanted to buy pizza for the homeless during the filming of SA1, but it wasn't enough and it will never be enough until we all chip in something. Because someone needs me and four other guys to lift their car out of a ditch in the snow. Because towns in my area were flooded, with fatalities and they needed any supplies immediately after the fact. Because there was a creepy Fake Cop pulling over teenagers and asking them creepy questions. (The cops got him in the area I was recently searching.) Because there was a guy who raped a 17-year-old girl and I thought I knew who he was (and was right). Because, as good as the cops are in my city, I'm another set of eyes for them. And they don't need to pay me for it. I call them first, then move into action. Because (And feel free to call me a kook for this. I don't claim to be psychic or anything. I still get this strange suspicion that there's some greater reason and future cause that all of us have become RLSHs. - Collective (un)Concentiousness? Whatever it is, we'll ALL know it when we see it. And then, suit up.
FINALLY: Because I get a kick out of it.
And I'm not even getting into my personal reasons... And I'm afraid that you're not going to hear them here.-Geist