Spider-Man: Hero or Menace (to Venezuela)?

Nicholas Maduro, Chávez's gaffe-prone successor, blames the superhero for youth violence

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Spider-man is the hero Venezuela deserves, but not the one it needs right now, to paraphrase the lines of Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon at the end of The Dark Knight. It would seem that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has decided as much after watching Spider-man at home and declaring that praise of super heroes leads to violence among children. Perhaps Maduro sees it like Gordon: Spider-man can take the blame for gun violence in Venezuela until the country is ready for a hero like him.

To be fair, he may have simply been walking atop the philosophical footsteps of his predecessor Hugo Chávez, who, according to an article in the New York Times, said that Americans should spend less time “watching Superman and Batman movies.”

Maduro is on a bit of a roll as somewhat of a gaffe machine. Last week he made the spotlight after a video of him falling off a bicycle during a race appeared online. He knocked over the mayor of Caracas, and caused a multiple bike pile-up.

Maduro has also set up a special anti-sabotage taskforce to prevent some arbitrary notion of political sabotage. Maduro will probably have to find a new scapegoat to blame for “sabotage” soon, because if he targets Venezuelan Jews he will run the risk of being very unoriginal. The taskforce comes complete with a hotline, 0-800-SABOTAGE, that citizens can call to report sabotage. It could end up like anything from the Terror after the revolution in France to the much more subtle East German Stasi.

But Maduro isn’t without his charm. Not a month ago he got flustered when giving a speech on Jesus, and blurted out, “To multiply ourselves like Christ multiplied the penises —sorry, the fish—and the bread.”  While it isn’t difficult to image that this would happen—the words for penises in Spanish is “penes,” and the word for fish is “peces”—he’s the President of a whole country.

With regard to Spider-man and violence, Maduro noted, as translated by the Huffington Post, “This kid, at 14 years old, carries a 9mm with a mind filled by thousands of hours of shows where people are killed.” Maduro seems to be suggesting that a kid carrying a 9mm is at risk of snapping since he has watched so many hours of violence. Spiderman, in short and according to Maduro, is making Venezuela dangerous by disturbing armed teenagers to the point where they may actually use their sidearm for evil. Until a solution is reached, you can report any vigilante sightings to 0-800-DELUSION.