Superheroes are rubbish because their powers are so utterly unattainable. No matter how much you screw up your eyes and wish for it, you're never going to become invisible. Nor will you ever be able to fly, not least because the main technique adopted by most superheroes when it comes to flying is to stick two fingers up at every law of physics and gravity. Where's Superman's thrust, eh? Where the fuck is it*?
One superpower that at first glance appears really cool and is always presented thus is the ability to read people's minds. It's a power that is always shown in the same way too. Take Parkman* from the TV show Heroes for example. He seems to have some mental radio in his head that he can tune in at will to hear anyone else's thoughts. Mel Gibson in What Women Want was able to hear the thoughts of women in what was possibly the most sexist film released in the latter half of the 20th century*. There are at least 12 examples of mind readers in popular culture* and the thoughts they hear are always the same: a simple and clear snippet of speech that the other person is saying to themselves.
Now take a brief moment to sit back and think about what you're thinking. Yeah, that sounds a little bit confusing but you know what I mean. Think about all the thoughts, images, sounds, words, ideas, emotions and images of your mother naked* that pass through your head in any one instance. It's an immensely confusing cacophony of noise which you're constantly struggling with for control. Now imagine that you could hear everyone else's confusing babble of mental bollocks. If you had that ability your brain would be out of your nose and into a small bubbling puddle of mess on the floor within 17 seconds.
Of course even if you could work out a way to filter out all the crap and get some clear image of what the other person was thinking in their head it still would be a distinctly unpleasant experience. The reason being that people think bad, embarrassing, personal thoughts all the time. In any one conversation with someone a million inappropriate, ridiculous, offensive and puerile images pass through your head. People constantly think about horrible stuff and if that information were available to everyone else all the time humans would be solitary animals living in caves, each one trying to work out whether they're more disgusted at themselves for imagining their neighbour dressed up in a baby costume and suckling at their nipples just for fun, or at their neighbour for thinking the same thing*.
This is why humans have developed inhibitions, filters to keep the dark thoughts locked up. But the brain, specifically the subconscious, is an absolute bastard and refuses to take censorship lying down. I don't know what I did to annoy my brain, maybe I wronged it in a past life or something, but now it's filled with a thirst for vengeance. A thirst it quenches by humiliating and embarrassing me at every turn and generally eroding my life*.
I know that I'm not alone in this. Anyone who has ever of a night partaken in the consumption of a couple of drinks tinted with ethanol will know how the brain will leap on any opportunity for it to blurt out the most cringeworthy statement it can come up with. It's not your fault, you didn't mean to say that you think your friend is a hefty whining trollop who should get over herself and sort her life out*, but she wouldn't shut the fuck up and*, your inhibitions dimmed by the booze, your subconscious leapt in there and spunked out what you were thinking. Why? Because your brain is a bastard and hates you.
Even when you're sober you're not safe though. The subconscious adopts more covert, guerilla tactics to make your life a living misery. It mostly achieves this through guilt and love, the two main weapons in the subconscious' 'Gonna Fuck You Up' arsenal*.
Guilt takes on many forms but it all essentially boils down to the same thing: when you make the wrong decision based on what the voices in your head told you to do. When your alarm goes off at 7.30am on a cold winter morning and you're tucked up in a snug warm bed, every instinct you have is telling you to just stay there you are and let work deal with itself. Similarly, when confronted by something that you really want to buy even when strapped for cash, the mind invents a million different reasons why this purchase will revolutionise your life and make you a better person*.
It's only after the bloodshed and the tears that the guilt sets in, always caused by that one wish that you could go back and listen to the sole rational voice that had clearly thought things through. This voice is your conscious, the sensible planning area of your brain that is locked in a constant battle against the overwhelming, savage, barbarian hordes that make up the subconscious. It's hardly surprising the poor blghter loses so often. Some people might suggest that you should take some kind of personal responsibility, but these people are forgetting that the subconscious is a bastard that wants to hurt you.
As powerful a weapon as guilt is, it's nothing compared to the power of love*. If the subconscious is trying to confuse, disorientate and disturb us, which it is, then it has no better weapon than love. In the early stages the subconscious uses our inhibitions against us. It does, in fact, amp them up. So you become nervous in front of the person you fancy, tongue-tied, awkward, unable to express how you truly feel for them, until you're left as a gibbering wreck wondering why all those wonderful things you'd planned to say suddenly vanished from your mind the instant you saw the object of your desire. Meanwhile your subconscious is guffawing away at your misfortune.
Then it builds on this groundwork. It starts flooding your mind with images and thoughts of the person. You don't want it to, you're trying to move on and focus on other things, but the subconscious is a persistent bugger and it just won't let up. So your every waking hour is filled with thinking about the one you 'love'. You wonder what they're doing, what they're thinking, if they like you, if you should throw caution to the wind, seize them and make wild passionate love to them right there on the dancefloor*, never realising that there is no rational reason for what you're doing, it's just because your brain hates you.
If you're lucky the other person will be having the same screwed up thoughts about you and then bam! you're in a relationship. Now you don't only have to deal with one subconscious that's out to get you, you have to deal with two. Anger, jealousy and confusion. The three elements, so sadly forgtten by Hollywood, that make up the other half of love. The only parts of a relationship that are continously content and happy are the two subconciouses involved that have formed a mutual bond of affection together over working so hard to mislead and bring general hurt and pain to those who are ultimately just trying to fulfil a biological imperative. Sex is easy for animals because they don't have a little demon in their head which is trying to destroy their sanity.
Guilt and love are the two main examples, but the harmful effects of the subconscious can be seen in every aspect of life. Irrational mood swings, decisions, thoughts, everything is caused by a part of the brain that doesn't take too kindly to being restricted. It was partly for this reason that for a while I took part in an intensive marjiuana relief programme*. For whatever reason, I found that marijuana had an effect on my subconscious not unlike that of an elephant tranquiliser on a small yappy Yorkshire terrier. Marijuana makes everything about you content and happy, with no pesky emotions or conflicting feelings to get in the way of living.
Unfortunately the flipside of such extensive use of cannabis is an utter lack of motivation and the feeling that you're slowly fading away as a person. So now that I've stopped smoking every hour that God sends, my subconscious has woken up. And it's pissed off. What I really want is a superpower that enables me to wage a stronger war against the subconscious, that will tell it to 'fuck off' every now and then. But superpowers are another invention of the subconscious to make us feel inferior about ourselves. If I survive the year with my sanity intact I'll consider it a personal victory.