Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Lots of people have emailed me about my blog description (well, no one has actually emailed me, but I'm sure lots of people wanted to). They want to know how I can claim to be the world's foremost metahero. The answer is that I'm the world's foremost metahero by definition. I invented the term, so I get to decide the parameters for deciding who is the foremost. This is all relating to my theory of blogdom. You see, any field of literature (and I include blogdom here) has various stages that it follows in terms of the protagonists it deals with. In the beginning it deals with normal people who do things like have babies or get killed in battles in normal literature. In the blog world this corresponds to the early internet sites where people wrote dumb diaries about their dog's mange, or how their Windows partition got screwed up.

The second stage is characterized by heros. People who are bigger and brighter than the normal human being. In literature these people tended to win wars rather than getting killed in them, and in the blog world they set up internet sites that provided a valuable service so that people actually wanted to read them. Examples are are Gizmodo and Angband. The next stage is the age of superheros. Not just the kind who wear brightly-colored spandex costumes, but people who are superhuman, who have powers that no real person does. In literature, these superheros include not only Spiderman (my personal fave) but also Hercules and Tarzan. In the blogging world, this corresponds to people who manage to attain high readerships while offering no obvious service other than their own random musings. In the world of blogs, Lileks is Tarzan and Atrios is The Joker (actually, I'm going to have to rethink that whole Lileks/Tarzan thing, but Atrios is perfect as The Joker. He's got a secret identity and he's got that whole good-natured malevolence thing going).

In the next stage come the gods. These are creatures so powerful that they are beyond anything that normal humans can even comprehend. In literature we had Thor, who could smite with lightening and Loki who knew the secrets of magic. In the blog world we have Instapundit who can smite a server with an instalanche and Andrew Sullivan who knows the secret of making money from blogging.

After the gods, you are sort of hitting the end of the trend. It's not easy to invent challenges for omnipotent beings, so the next stage goes the other direction and brings us the antihero. These are deeply flawed individuals who nevertheless manage to undertake heroic actions. Think Dirty Harry or the star of "Everybody Loves Raymond". In the blog world we have Gwielo who exploits pictures of attractive and incompletely clothed young women to attract people to his page (of course I only read the page for the articles) or ScrappleFace who prints nothing but lies. Everything he says is a lie, he even admits it.

In the final stage, we have a group of people who don't actually have anything to say or any reason to start a blog, but they feel left out, so they start one anyway. These are the metaheros. "Meta" is a greek-root word meaning "after" or "beyond". So a metahero is one who comes after the heros. And the foremost metahero is by definition the first one who posits this historical trend in a blog post. The closest analogy to metaheros in literature would probably be found in romance novels.

As evidence for my thesis, I note that Geilo is now copying Scrappleface's dishonesty. What will we have next, Scrappleface showing pictures of scantily clad network news hosts?

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