Alyssa calls the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Batkid event last Friday “a fascinating watermark in America’s obsession with superhero culture, and in our relationships to various aspects of geek culture”:
Miles’ wish offered San Franciscans the opportunity to participate in an act of kindness in person. And the specific nature of Miles’ request gives participants something more than warm fuzzies: it’s an opportunity to participate in a fantasy of their own on a grand scale, or to excuse indulging in a fantasy on the grounds that it’s philanthropic.
The vast expansion of comics and gaming conventions have provided fans of genre fiction with more opportunities to and spaces in which to cosplay, or to dress up as their favorite characters. But there’s an understanding that the convention floor is special space to assume a different identity that you can’t carry with you out of the center, at least not very far. And cosplaying is often relatively stagnant, an opportunity to pose for pictures, and maybe engage in a casual lightsaber duel. As much as individuals might dream of turning into an entire city into a canvas for their dreams of living out their identification with certain characters, it’s almost impossible to imagine having the clout to step into not just the clothes from a piece of fiction you love, but scenarios that could possible happen in the world where it’s set.
Miles’ request to Make-A-Wish provides an exceptionally rare opportunity not just for him to dress up as Bat Kid and liberate Lou Seal, the San Francisco Giants’ mascot, from the clutches of The Penguin, but for people who aren’t ill to jump in on the game.