As a person who considers himself a pretty decent sized geek, I love superheroes. From Batman and Superman to Spier-Man and Captain America, there are so many out there to love. Not to mention the great set of villains to go along with all of them as well. But, in the wild universe filled with these characters, there is one such hero that really pushes my buttons. You would think that I above all people would love this particular hero. I mean, after all, we're both blind. However, this is just not the case.
First of all, let me say that I don't hate Daredevil because of the movie with Ben Affleck. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a great movie. I watched it not too long ago with my son since he had not seen it. (I sort of “banned” it from the house for a while.) And, after another viewing I came to the same conclusion that most everyone else did: It just isn't a good movie. That being said, it isn't why I dislike this character.
Most people who assume that a visually impaired person like myself would love having a superhero represent us. And, on the surface, that would be true. Every group of people loves being represented in a variety of entertainment mediums, especially the movies. But, Daredevil has simply always rubbed me the wrong way.
It's not like I have a long list of things that make me hate him or anything. It's more of a reaction to the character. But, in keeping with the flow of a blog post, here is a small list of reasons why Daredevil gets my blood boiling. (Not literally…that would be weird…)
1. Nuclear Abilities
We can't all be lucky enough to lose our vision in a nuclear waste accident that gives us super human abilities. It is simply a false representation of losing one's sight. I'm sure there are tons of people learning to be visually impaired by bouncing across buildings in New York City. But, the average person I know has a little more difficult time. And, while there may be that unique person running outside every time it rains to to finish the next chapter in their book, sound waves do not equal vision for most blind people.
My point here is that while blind people do learn to use their other senses in unique ways, Daredevil gives the impression that all blind people sleep in deprivation tanks and bang their canes on things to see. It's just no accurate. (Though don't think we haven't tried…)
2. The Weaponized Cane
Daredevil has a telescopic cane that he uses as a weapon to fight crime. This actually makes perfect sense with his character. However, Most people then look at my cane and wonder why it is so boring. “Can you hit people with it?”, they might ask. And, while I certainly could do that, it is built to be light, so I'm not sure it would inflict much damage.
The reality is that the cane is a much simpler tool then used with the character of Daredevil. While they do sell telescopic canes for the visually impaired, I've yet to find one that I would trust to go out and start a fight with a bad guy.
3. The Alter Ego Issue
Daredevil's alter ego, Matthew Michael Murdock (not making that up) is far different than his superhero counterpart. Now, this is important in the storyline as he doesn't want people to know it is him. You know, like when Clark Kent throws on the glasses to hide his identity. (Is that really working? Can people really not see Superman in his face? Geez…) But, the issue here is how different they really are. Matt is very typically blind. He needs help getting around. He wears the dark sunglasses. You know, the typical blind stuff. But, whenever Daredevil is called upon, it's almost like the blindness goes away. I understand that he has super powers and can “see” to a certain extent with things. But, it just bothers me that the blindness is almost an after thought for him in this situation.
Needless to say, I have no mode in which my blindness is almost shifted off. It always affects me. People need to realize that visually impaired people are going to not be able to see well regardless of where they are and what they are doing. Sure, we learn to manage really well, but we are still visually impaired.
What's the Real Reason?
Ok, ok…here's the thing. I can over look all these issues as a comic book fan. There are lots of things that don't make sense about superhero. Like why we can't get a decent Fantastic Four movie. Come on people…but I digress. My point is that it is fantasy and I am perfectly fine with that. My issue with Daredevil is simple. He gives a false impression of what visual impairment is really like to sighted people. Now, I'm not saying that sighted people assume that all blind people become superheroes after sight loss. Clearly that would be ridiculous. But, how many times have I heard people commnent about how Daredevil can see in the rain. They don't “really” think that, but somewhere down inside they think that would be really cool. And, it would be, I agree. But, it's just not true.
You see, it's not that they believe we are all Daredevil. It's just that it would be much more interesting if we were. But, since we are not, Daredevil is just not very relatable to me as a VIP. My sight loss is much more “boring” and affects my life in very specific and unfortunate ways. We would all much rather be superhero like and save the world. And, I think that's true for many people. But, we are just people living with crappy vision. That's it. No fancy tights. No weaponized cane. No seeing in the middle of a thunderstorm. (But, yes, that would be pretty cool.)
So, why do I hate Daredevil? Because he is a fantastic picture of vision impairment..that is completely unrealistic. So, I guess it's actually more my issue than his. My apologies Daredevil. I'll keep working on it.
As a sidenote, don't you think it would be cool for him to have a guide dog? He could have a cool sidekick name like “Shadow” and help him with off the bad guys. I think they are missing a big opportunity with this one. I'll write a letter…
On a completely unrelated note, Daredevil is double D. Derek Daniel is double D. Coincidence? You decide…