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, May 1, 2009


Skeletor has found himself in He-Man's mercy on more than one occasion. Does He-Man deliver the coup-de-grace? Does he rid Eternia of countless years of terror? No. Like Superman and other do-gooders, He-Man chooses not to "stoop to their level."

He-Man's rationale is a classic golden boy hero creed: the moment I act like them (the villains), I become them. He-Man will always stop short of causing someone's death. Fine. There's a certain symmetry to such a belief.

What's the only alternative for dealing with those who cause death in the first place? Imprisonment, naturally. The only problem is that Skeletor can pretty much disappear at will. Whether he summons a dimensional portal or simply dissolves into thin air, Skeletor always gets away.

Should He-Man adopt a new policy? If Skeletor cannot be contained, does he have an obligation to take Skeletor out once and for all? Should He-Man kill?

No. Not because Skeletor's life should be protected at all costs, or because it's categorically wrong to kill. He-Man shouldn't kill because it's not his job to do so. He's not part of the Eternian military - he's a volunteer. As with all volunteers, you can only expect what you pay for - which is exactly nothing. He-Man has decided to take upon himself the task to "defend the secrets of Castle Grayskull from the evil forces of Skeletor." He's willing to sacrifice his time and risk his life to perform this task; if he wants to make it all the harder on himself by not putting an end to Skeletor once and for all, that's his business.

I think that deep down He-Man believes one day Skeletor will change. That after years of witnessing He-Man's peerless example Skeletor will finally see the error of his ways. Personally, I think He-Man's wrong, but I'm not the one donning furry speedos at the first sign of danger, am I? (My wife certainly hopes not.) He-Man chooses to believe, and he takes responsibility for that belief every time he lifts aloft his magic sword to battle Skeletor. He has earned the right to fight the way he wants.

The only sensible thing to do, as loyal tax-paying Eternian citizens, is to vote for the creation of a specialized cadre of assassins and send them to Snake Mountain. Let He-Man be golden boy; we just want to live in peace.

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