In the age of endless superhero media, My Hero Academia manages to stand out. Whether it’s the story’s commitment to its characters, or Stephen King style detailed world building, or its delightful catch phrases, protagonist Deku and friends have carved out a space for themselves in a tired genre. While the show is rarely overtly political, one character serves as the perfect embodiment and explanation for the hellish political times we’re living in.
In My Hero Academia’s universe, the overwhelming majority of people have some sort of superpower, called a quirk. A select few, though maybe not as select as you’d think, are licensed to be hero’s, and none of them greater than All Might, the red, white, and blue, American catch-phrasing symbol of peace. Aside from being the most powerful hero, he’s also the most popular. His smile and laughter exude confidence, putting civilians at ease, and fear in the hearts of evil doers.
All Might is one out of many though. There are a lot of super heroes, all of whom are paid for their work. Many of them have side jobs, often tying into their super hero work, or at least being enhanced by it. This angers Stain, one of the show’s most memorable villains.
Stain is a literary bloodthirsty villain, who instead of fighting for money or power, fights to murder as many unworthy heroes as he can. Killing or wounding dozens of pros before finally be cornered by the protagonist. His ideology is simple, but power fun. Stain believes that being hero is something that should be done for good, not for profit or personal gain. This resonates with people. Even the professional heroes who finally corner him are briefly given pause by his vitriolic rant against their kind. After being taken into custody, his ideology spews out into the world. Many start to agree with Stain, and question why heroes should be getting paid, or have side jobs.
Stain of course represents Trump, or at least Trump as he exists in the imagination of those that voted for him. Someone committed to cleaning up those in power, sorting out the wrong from the right. What’s powerful isn’t the ideology of Stain or Trump, neither’s holds up to much scrutiny. Of course heroes need to be paid for their work, and of course building a border wall is laughably racist. The strength of the ideology isn’t in its logical soundness however, it’s in its mere existence.
Stain’s opposition are several individual heroes, who all oppose him because he’s a villain. They don’t really have any sort of direct answer to his ideology; even after he’s defeated they essentially all ignore him as best they can. Consider the opposition to Trump. The Democrats don’t have any sort of concrete plan in opposition, just an endless restating of the fact that Trump is bad. Trump is bad, but that’s meaningless without explanation and, more importantly, some form of opposing ideology.
For all his faults, Colbert’s concept of truthiness, the quality of feeling correct regardless of facts or reason, holds up very well today. When Trump tells people he’s going to build a wall, the fear of unemployment and people of color make that feel like a good idea. One can scream and shout in opposition to the wall using facts, logic, and reason, but it won’t convince anyone unless the opposition feels correct, and speaks to people’s experiences.
Stain is defeated by happenstance, but his ideology not only maintains but grows, and is quickly commodified by far more powerful villains who do have an interest in power. As All Might, the symbol of peace, grows older, the heroes grapple with the fact that they have nothing to hold up in opposition to Stain’s ideology. The Democrats are in the same spot. All Might is America: both are soon to no longer exist in their current form. Shaping the future will be done by those that figure out how they want it shaped. Trump’s side has done that; Trump’s opposition has not.
Dylan James Harper is the Political Editor for CSUITEMUSIC.com
Read more from Dylan at http://www.dylanjamesharper.com