It starts with five simple words:


And then it comes. The music builds. Lightning from the sky strikes the man with the upraised sword. Does it hurt him? Just listen to what he says next:


You remember. Electric bolts of pure energy crackle around his muscled body. Hands that can punch through solid steel grip the sword that transformed the bumbling prince into the most powerful man in the universe. You remember the way it felt to grab hold of a plastic sword or a stick or even empty air and say those same words: I have the power.

We all want the power. But the world seems to be short on magic swords these days. Believe me, I've checked. (You think I'd be writing this if I had a magic sword? No way. I'd be out battling shadow beasts and seven-headed monsters, saving nubile red-haired maidens from guys with skulls for faces.)

So what do we do? Well, I suppose you can grow a mustache and build weapons devices and adopt an orphan who grows up to be captain of the guards. But let's face it. Not everyone can grow mustaches. And even if you can, do you really want to? Basically the only people who can have mustaches without looking silly are those who've always had mustaches. (Having a mustache attached to a beard doesn't count, by the way. It's still just a beard. That's a whole other story.) It's something set from the time of adolescence, something you have to choose. Either you're a mustache guy or you're not. Once you've decided, it's locked in. (It works both ways, too. Suddenly you shave off your mustache and bam! You've got a lip coming from nowhere. Scary.)

Okay. You don't have a magic sword, or a mustache, or skill with weapons or space technology in a barbarian sorcery world. You can't be He-Man or Man-At-Arms. I'll assume that, like me, if you can't do any of the above, you also cannot fly, ram into buildings with your head, or transform into a mystical falcon. Is this reason to despair? Will your life be meaningless from now on?

The answer to all of these questions is: NO! You can have the power without the magic sword. No, I don't mean you'll be able to pick up Castle Grayskull and throw it into the air using your bulging muscles. I'm talking about the real power that He-Man wields. His morality.

Fast forward to the end of the show. The battle with Skeletor was fought and won. Old skullface runs off, shaking his hands in the air, vowing eternal revenge. Like we're scared. Next time we'll just beat him again. No matter who he brings along! (By the way, who has a skull instead of a face? How can he even see without eyeballs?) After all that the show should be over, right?

Wrong! Now comes the most important part. The moral.

You've heard the expression, "the moral of the story." No doubt your 11th grade English teacher had you combing all the pages from "Call me Ishmael" to "Finis" so you could explain, in your own words, just what Moby Dick really meant. He-Man would never lead you on such a pointless chase. At the end of every single episode, He-Man (or one of his faithful and heroic friends) tells you plainly and simply what you should know about how to live a good and happy life. That knowledge, my friends, is real power. With it you can master the universe. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Beastman: Skeletor's Whipping Boy

Poor Beast-Man. All he wants to do is be somebody important. Every time he tries to impress Skeletor, he usually screws it up. He hates Skeletor, of course, at the same time he loves him; the way a whipped dog loves and hates its master.

Why does he stay with Skeletor? For one thing, his ability to control animals reaches its peak at Snake Mountain, Skeletor’s dark and twisted fortress. To that I say, so what? How many times does He-Man concoct a plan to invade Snake Mountain? How often is Beast-Man going to use his powers at Snake Mountain? It happens, true, but not that often.

Beast-Man has the lowest status out of all Skeletor’s minions. His chief function seems to be that of Skeletor’s Insult Catcher. Apparently Skeletor has a lot of anger and it needs an outlet; that’s Beast-Man’s job.

What else can he do? How can he get out of this destructive relationship? He can start by recognizing his own value: his affinity with animals. Perhaps he could get a job as a shepherd. I’m sure there are lots of flocks of wayward sheep (or whatever grazing, migrating animals they have on Eternia) looking for guidance. Beast-Man could provide that. In fact, with his mind-control abilities, he could be sending signals to many flocks at a single time. In just a little time he could become the biggest shepherd in Eternia.

There are plenty of other lines of work available for him. He could be a zoo keeper. An animal trainer. A pet store proprietor. Kennel master for the royal hounds. Pest control god. The possibilities are many.

Once he recognizes he has real value apart from Skeletor, he needs to make a clean and lasting break. No good will come in trying to maintain some kind of a relationship with Bone Dome. Perhaps one day Skeletor will sincerely repent for his abuse; if that day comes, and Beast-Man feels he’s ready, then a rapproachement is possible. Until then Beast-Man needs to become his own person.

He’ll have moments of doubt and insecurity. He’ll think himself a phony, incapable of surviving without the firm (if painful) guidance of the Cantankerous Calcium Deposit. That is where his new profession will come into play. He can look to his new good work for confirmation of his special abilities and so realize he doesn’t need the incessant put-downs to keep going.

Is it too much to wish for the day when a confident Beast-Man gazes serenely over his furry flock as he leads them to greener pastures? I hope not.

1 comment:

  1. Beast Man needs to explore self-actualization by reclaiming the dreams and passions from the sources of his inspiration. When was the last time Beast Man actually dreamed? Did he have childhood passions that he let go?

    I found the answers to some of these questions by reading Dan Miller's books: 48 Days to the Work you Love, as well as No More Mondays. I highly recommend that Beast Man and his ilk read them, get a journal, and explore the potentials of being self-sufficient without the need for old Bone-Dome's criticisms.

    Check out Dan Miller's "No More Mondays" and his other books at: 48 Days Products

    After all, if he doesn't explore what he might be, he will continually be trapped in his current mental prison.