Week Twelve Recap
Harlem Hammer Verdict
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I’m not exactly sure why I even agreed to be a judge on American Hero. I’d never even seen a reality television show when the producers approached me. But I knew Peregrine and respected her. She’s had to balance the triple threat of being a victim of the Wild Card, being a great beauty, and being a woman. It makes it very hard to be taken seriously. Knowing Peregrine helped me make the decision, but really what decided it for me was the kids.
When my card turned I was nineteen years old. It was the trauma of a car wreck while I was at college that triggered the virus, and ended my dreams of a brilliant career in ballet. So, now I was an ex-ballarina and an ace, and the world doesn’t offer you a lot of guidance. In fact, no guidance.
I bounced from career to career — SCARE agent, private detective after I got sick of government work. I finally opened my own firm working for one of Jokertown’s foremost defense attorneys. And now American Hero.
There is a point to all this personal history. Here it is. Aces have enormous power and no support system. There are no schools for precocious demi-gods, no guidance counselors. No heroes to look up to — they either die like Fortunato, or worse, just disappear like Dr.Tachyon. We don’t teach them how to use their powers, or how to be heroes, whatever that means.
Do I know what it means to be a hero? Not really, no. We’ve never had the discussion. We all just kept on being the people we were before we got infected with the wild card.
So, when Peregrine approached me and told me the title of the show I was intrigued. I thought we had a real chance here.
Of course it turned out to be fool’s gold. because beneath all the tinsel of Hollywood we found — more tinsel. Yet despite our best efforts to trivialize this process some of the kids didn’t let it happen. They began the conversation.
What do I mean by that? Well, think about it. We brought together a large group of aces and joker/aces. They got to know each other, and some of them went beyond who was sleeping with who, and who played the metagame better, and who was a prick. They began to have those discussions about heroism. They considered that maybe they were supposed to do more with these powers then just get a date or make money. That the universe might demand that they use these powers responsibly.
And some of them went over to Egypt and defended people who were powerless and despised. It started with a game show that was the very definition of fake. It ended with lives saved and lives lost, and it doesn’t get any more real than that.
This isn’t what you want? You want me to talk about how Digger Downs is a prick, and the Harlem Hammer is clueless? Sorry, not going to play that game.
Okay, I’ll give you this much. Because this is Hollywood I think a lot of woman got picked because they were pretty, and not because they had a kick ass power. Curveball, Earth Witch and Bubbles had potent abilities, and Gardener could have her uses in select circumstances... but a girl who turns into a diamond? A girl who can float like dandelion fluff? A girl who can go really fast on roller skates? Please. These aren’t powers, they’re conversation starters.
Digger accuses me of playing gender politics. Maybe I did go easier on them, because I felt sorry for many of them. They shouldn’t have been invited to the dance. Many of them were no more than deuces. After what those kids did in Egypt I think we’ve got to think a lot more seriously about the kind of people we recruit. They can make a difference, so we ought to pick the best and train them to the best of our abilities.
I know I keep coming back to Egypt, but that’s what matters. Why should anybody care if I think the right person “won."
But okay, I’ll answer the question. I’ll tell you who “won.” Curveball, Earth Witch, Bubbles, Rustbelt, Drummer Boy, Holy Roller, Simoon, King Cobalt, John Fortune, Bugsy, Hardhat, and all the Egyptian jokers who fought alongside the aces, they were the winners. They won a chance to make their lives meaningful.
That’s a prize worth having.