As always there are spoilers.
In any superhero series the media is a staple, for when there is a division between the professional’s doing there job to protect the civilians and the civilians themselves the media is then understood as a bridge between these two counter parts, for the hero’s it is a way to obtain fame and advance there standing, while on the other hand the citizens use this to comprehend how the polices of the organisations and professionals work, while simultaneously having a platform where they can openly criticize them. The civilians trust the media to give them the facts of the situation while at the same time is an active accountability to how a hero’s act, basically a control system, creating a dividing line between what is and what isn’t a villainous act. As we’ve witnessed in the vigilantes spin off with Captain Celebrity he does not make a move to apprehend the villain, he cites that his crew has yet to show, the media hasn’t appeared and the police have yet to give him the go ahead on taking action. Captain Celebrity is not the most virtuous hero around but is still loved by many as the main stream media manly reports on his heroic deeds rather than the unsavoury parts of his personality in Japan, although they are known, if the media did though there would be a major shift in the opinion of him, turning cheering crowds into booing spectators and as we have seen in the Kamino ward arc how easily the public can turn on the hero’s. “Hero schools don’t usually lose.” One background mentioned as the press conference for U.A started up. When the hero looses it’s a blow especially when they have shown to always defeat the villain and it leads to people to start loosing faith in their protectors as the media begins to question the hero’s that they once held up to such high standards. But this isn’t anything new media goes where the story is and usually there is a lot of sensationalisms that follows. Look at Spiderman a helpful vigilante fighting against evil is made into the villain by the press time after time after time and time again, with only a select minority actually knows he’s a hero for a majority of all comic books but in the Toby Macquire Spiderman universe there is a unknown shift with the press and the Daily bugle comes out with truthful rather than sensationalized headlines causing a tonal shift in the masses with them now throwing parades in his name and it does present some interesting prospects in other fictional universes with how media can manipulate the masses and how the hero’s use it as well as the less savoury types.
While Mt. Lady is not the most notable hero in the series but she’s recognisable as the first debut we see in the series. There is much acclaim after she apprehends the purse snatcher, letting the people snap photos as the police haul him off as this is the day of her debut and is successful, but look at the damage she caused in apprehending him, the train station wires are broken delaying trains. Kamui woods was handling the situation with minimal damage to the surrounding structure and then Mt. Lady swoops in and now the trains are delayed which is a huge inconvenience to people. This was her debut meaning she was preparing for this day since her school years, meaning when she was mastering her quirk it would have become apparent that working in a city would be destructive and impede the daily life of those round her with the damage she causes not to mention other impediments for the civilians she is meant to protect. Later that day she failed to get to Bakugo because of this factor and yet she stays despite her obvious impediment to critical situations and that she wants to become popular so she sticks around even though the country would allow her to work unimpeded by the structures as it’s wide and open not narrow and cramped.
Chapter 184 we get a deeper look into how hero’s are ranked and the system they use, by incidents resolved, there contribution to society and approval ratings, looking at the line-up of hero’s we can gauge how much popularity matters look at washing machine hero who stars mostly in commercials is the number 8 hero who’s outfit looks extremely stupid it may help with his powers but it is fucking idiotic, I can imagine other heroes just laughing at him and little kids. As it stands it seems popularity plays a big part in the rankings while we know from chapter 185 popularity can push you far the no. 2 hero mentions how he would be no. 1 if they went just by popularity and not just by incidents resolved and there contribution to society, popularity can move you but in the end you still need to help those around you but if your not popular at all you won’t make the top ten list. Causing the hero’s pander to the media outlets to rise in rank doing numerous interviews and getting caught on camera wether by someone in the press or by numerous passer by’s who capture the fights on camera to bolster them on media sites. Captain Celebrity who we all know and hate from the vigilante spin off won’t intervene in a situation without the presence of police and the media, one for the go ahead the other for the adulates.
There is social media in this world as shown by Izuku in the first episode but this cannot help a hero or a villain reach the pro hero circuit unless they are noticed by the main stream media. Social media is merely a starting point for a hero when they debut as with well populated areas there is usually a camera around, going back to Mt. Lady’s debut after dealing with the purse snatcher a horde of photographer come and start taking numerous pictures of her spreading her across the internet this was he debut and it will be forever present as this was her debut as a hero, a heroes placement as underground or over the top depends on how they debuted with lots of people around otherwise they don’t get the same notoriety as those that shine in the light.
Exploring episode 1 we have Izuku looking over All Might’s debut on youtube, this was the moment All Might became known to the world to everyone. This clip has been shown on tv during Shouto’s flashback into his childhood that clip is seen. Social media got the clip out but was also picked up by the media and he became a sensation rocketing into infamy. The criminal Gentle was a small time vlogger villain who went after many shady characters bringing them to justice but he never received any mainstream media attention. There are three things that always sell, sex, murder and scandal. While Gentle went about exposing those who trick and steal from the masses he was merely a fly in the ointment. His antics are easily to be overshadowed by other conflicts of greater significance despite the long six years he’s been donning the villains mask, that were far more important to the public like Stain going around murdering hero’s or All Might being a teacher at U.A and his subsequent retirement.
A convenience store no matter how prolific and with them altering labels so they can still sell their pudding would barley be a blip on there radar and as Gentle won’t resort to radical acts or acts of violence he won’t be brought to centre stage, to the public a few know of his name as that convenience store employee clearly knew who he was but without direct interference by the media does anyone get treated to the same notoriety.
Stain did not actively seek out the media, he was against fake heroes and although he wanted to spread his message he did it through murder hoping to change the system that way, disposing of all heroes who are only into it for fortune and fame. Even though it would spread his message further he shy’s away from the media leaving no message other than his victims body’s but with the attack on Hosu city everything changed for him. The NHA media station were the ones who recorded Tomura standing above watching the chaos erupt. They used this footage to link Stain and the Villain Alliance together. Before he was captured all the people new about Stain was that he was going around hero’s that he deemed unworthy to hold that mantle, once captured the media focus exploded on him and with the release of a short documentary on youtube, explaining his ideology and with something as big as Stain, the mark he left behind is impossible to delete, as the marks run deep into the fabric. Without media presents his ideology would not have spread as far as it did nor would anyone question how the hero system has been operating up until that point. The hero system is not flawless and it needs to change so that the hero’s work together instead of against each other but what I find the most disturbing is how easily the hero’s are able to manipulate information to fit the narrative they want to tell.
Hosu city is also where we get a sight scene of actual media manipulation. The police manipulate the papers to say that Endeavor was the one to defeat Stain as to not get the U.A students who appended him into trouble, which explains how Endeavor was able to keep his wife’s hospitalisation under wraps along with the scarring of his child. The media can only use what they know and as hero’s must all of there reports or at the very least have it dictated and then someone else right it down and when they are in the thick of it without the police seeing the incident this can lead to information either being spun in the way that they come off more heroic and the villain far more devious and who would question them they are the hero’s after all.
The media presents a cut and dry explanation of who the bad guys are and who are the good guys, which in a way they need to do. The average citizen does not know how trying the hero profession is and they need convincing that this person can protect them, it’s up to the media to do the advertising. Look at the difference between All Might and Endeavor. Both great hero’s, both have been in the spotlight for years, but once Endeavor is given the number one spot he ultimately fails at it and the media instead of pushing him down further decides to bolster him and make him more appealing all around, in the short interlude we are given in chapter 115 it is said on the radio by some unknown presenter that, “instead of focusing on the negatives, thinking about how he can carry his strengths forward.” In realization that petty crime will turn upwards the media tries to gain ideas to make him into the man they lost or at the very least someone who will strike fear into the hearts of criminals but they realize they can’t do this as this more of a branding issue rather than a positive media presence that can only patch up the problem rather than fix it, that issue is with Endeavor and I made a whole post about that and it would be redundant to go on it here. Only after two weeks and the presence of being looked over by Endeavor there is still unrest s the talk about the fears about being under his gaze, which causes unrest in people. With All Might’s retirement the hero’s sprit is weakening but not in strength but instead sprit. Morale can get a man over a hill when his legs broken, morale can drive you to write one more sentence, morale can bring people together. And without it people begin to question themselves breaking them apart and it doesn’t help that by the Overhaul arc there spirit sinks a little further as now not only the confidence in heroes are depleting but also the police as they got swarmed by the Villain Alliance and lost key evidence and all they can do is apologise but they only go so far and evidently the discord the parents have spreads to there children causing them to act out against the hero’s and society itself.
As I’ve mentioned before the media reports on what the citizen want to talk about. With the shift from wanting to know and talk to All Might but after the USJ was attacked, it once again shifted to the students of class 1A a group of barley legal superheros who were able to push back the villains with little damage to themselves (looking at you Izuku). The new hero’s of the day that was all everyone could talk about and that made them satisfied for a time, until the Hosu attack happened. Stain was caught and his ideology’s spread. Then that began the debate on hero’s and popularity and then the reveal of All Might’s true form and the media shifted right into Tomura’s many hands. His goal was to shake society rupturing its foundation that was built upon by it’s faith in hero’s and after All Might’s defeat in the public sphere he has done exactly that, showing how weak the symbol of peace really is. Yet unlike the hero’s Tomura has yet to manipulate anyone on purpose, he’s manage to shift focus on Stain but that was an accident, in fact this entire shift has been accidental and I don’t think he realises the true power of the media with how childish he is. The hero’s realize and know how to manipulate the media but with the heroic sprit at such lows it’s hard for an insider to fix it they would need to bring in a consultant someone who can pinpoint the problem, fix it and once again reignite the heroic spirit that is ever so flaccid. Someone like Gentle who understands hero’s so thoroughly and completely.