After reading Jon Ronson’s recent article on Real Life Superhero (or RLSH) Phoenix Jones, I followed up on references to Peter Tangen’s remarkable Real Life Super Hero Project. The site is about a year old, but there is new material added every month. And it’s all nothing short of remarkable, admirable, and, yes, a little sad.
Photographer Peter Tangen has done something amazing on this site, which is to take an overblown cosplay session from a fan convention and give it life. Tangen’s own “RL” job is to create movie posters for many of the biggest film studios: you’ve undoubtedly seen many of them walking down the street. So he was a natural fit for giving a little flash and polish to the (often cringe-inducingly bad) home-spun threads of these vigilantes. The results are impressive:
I’m sure the reference to cosplay would disturb and upset the RLSHs, but it’s really the first thing that jumps to mind when you see these folks: despite their best intentions, in interviews, they still come across as naive, slightly-too-well-read geeks. These people aren’t invulnerable, so most of what RLSHs do is something a little more than community service. That in itself is admirable, but it begs the question: couldn’t they do community service out-of-character? Is the costume and the role a coping mechanism, or merely to gain attention?
Still, the collection of media on this site is really well presented. So if you’re looking for some innovative reasons for your girlfriend or boyfriend to dump you, and want to take up a life of crime-fighting, here’s some inspiration: