Seattle's New and Improved Local Villain, Rex Velvet and the Problem with Superheroes [Op-Ed]

"Let us rid our city of these silly, vigilante nerds." - Rex Velvet

As reported by Gawker: It looks like Seattle's "real-life" superhero, Phoenix Jones has met his match thanks to the handle-bar-mustache-twirling self-proclaimed super-villain Rex Velvet.

Velvet and the "Social Villains Alliance" recently released a surprisingly well-produced video laying out his dastardly plan to rid Seattle of Phoenix Jones and his "silly gang of misfit Power Rangers."

For those unfamiliar with Phoenix Jones, he is the alter-ego of Benjamin John Francis Fodor, the costumed leader of a crime-fighting pack called the Rain City Superhero Movement, a Kick-Ass-esque gang of masked vigilantes who patrol the streets of Seattle, physically fighting crime.

In all honesty, Velvet echoes some of the sentiments that I think many of us might have (though more harshly) when it comes to Phoenix Jones and his costumed, crime-fighting ilk when he says:

Now our city is protected not by our once respected police force, but by a tormented, delusional freak in a mask.

It's obvious that Rex Velvet is not entirely genuine, but his very existence brings up an important issue, Phoenix Jones is not a real superhero and we need to stop treating him like a lovable, goofy cartoon.

Velvet goes on to say:

The Rain City Superhero Movement must disintegrate. For far too long we've watched as our nation buy into its childish charade, and it's run its course.

According to Gawker, it was reported that Phoenix Jones and his sidekick pepper-sprayed Occupy protestors during a May Day demonstration.

In a message posted on his Facebook page, Jones said (caps by him):

YOU WANNA KNOW MY STANCE ON OCCUPY HERE YOU GO. I DON'T CARE IF PEOPLE WANNA PROTEST IT IS YOUR RIGHT AS AN AMERICAN I AGREE SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BEING DESTROYED BY CORPORATIONS. TODAY THE PROBLEM WAS NOT THE PROTESTERS OR THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT.

IT WAS A SMALL GROUP OF BLACK WATER ANARCHISTS THAT HAD MADE OPEN THREATS TO TRY AND DESTROY KEY BUILDINGS IN MY CITY. IT IS RIDICULOUS AND AGAINST EVERYTHING I STAND FOR TO WATCH PEOPLE PURPOSELY COMMIT ACTS OF TERROR, VIOLENCE, AND MAYHEM.

SO WHERE DO I STAND? I STAND SIDE BY SIDE WITH ANYONE WHO UPHOLDS JUSTICE AND FACE TO FACE WITH ANYONE WHO WANTS TO COMMIT VIOLENT FELONIES (i did not pepper-spray anyone, my whole video will be up soon...but if any of the anarchists have a problem with being pepper-sprayed you should probably stop attacking and breaking into federal buildings).

Whether or not Jones actively sprayed the protestors or was, as he says protecting buildings in "his" city and defending himself, the greater issue is Phoenix Jones is not police officer and therefore should not enforce the law. It's dangerous for the evil-doers he's battling with as well as those he believes he's protecting. The opening of Jonathan Ronson's book about Jones, The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones consists of Ronson visiting Jones in the hospital after he had been urinating blood following an assault with a baseball bat.

According to Wikipedia, Jones stalks the streets with a stun bat and pepper spray. These are weapons, non-lethal yes, but they are weapons none-the-less and they're meant for one thing, to do harm.

Rex Velvet seems to be having a lot of fun with Jones, and this all does seem fun, but Jones isn't a joke, he's a real man with the ability to do real harm to real people. He shouldn't be treated as an idiot or a fool. It's more complicated than that. There's little that seems real to me about Rex Velvet, it's a joke about something that seems like a joke, but isn't a joke. Phoenix Jones might not be a real superhero, but he is a real person and he's really out there and as far as I can tell, he believes he's a hero, and he's putting himself and others in harm's way.

What do you think about Phoenix Jones, Rex Velvet and other "real-life" superheroes and villains? Hit the comments to say your piece.


VMAs 2017