Damn you, Iron Man!

Frequent readers of this blog know that I get heated when non comic book people blame comic books for the problems in society, specifically with our children. Nancy King being the most recent, claiming that if teachers are being cut from schools, kids will start reading (READING) comics.

Recently, the Philly Inquirer’s staff reporter Tirdad Derakhshani did a story on how comic book characters are piss poor role models. Tirdad sites that our children–specifically boys because we all know girls don’t read comics–are being brainwashed into thinking they have to be macho, violent, aggressive assholes in society. This is all comes from Sharon Lamb, a psychologist in Boston. If you’re wondering what her actual credentials are, I couldn’t tell you. I’m going off of this report.

Lamb claims that today’s supermen and woman are much different then the ones of yesteryear. Violent, sarcastic, and selfish. It also helps define gender roles.

“There is no doubt that children establish an understanding of what it means to be a girl or what it means to be a boy to a large extent from the media,” …Lamb says from her office in Boston. “Kids depend on stereotypes of gender to define themselves” and the role they play in society.” However, parent’s also help with gender roles. I can’t count the times when I hear a parent say–rather harmlessly–to a young boy “Don’t cry. Big boys don’t cry.” Or a father telling his young son to man up. Yet when a girl cries it’s ok, girls should be more open about their feelings. I can say that from personal experience as I am A) a girl and B) have parent’s.
 
Media as a whole has been supporting gender roles since the invention of media itself. If we look back at advertisements from the 1800s through early 1900s, women are always shown as being soft, delicate creatures. Ad’s selling bars of soap claim the soap is as soft as a woman (or something asinine like that). The idea that media may have had a heavier hand in showing gender roles is also asinine. Do you know who comes up with said advertisements? Men and women who both grew up with those idea’s instilled in them by their mothers and fathers, who got that idea from their own parents, ect ect.
 
The other issue NO ONE apparently brings up, is that parents are the bottom line. Some people argue that if you don’t have kids, it’s hard to understand. I babysit on the side so I have some idea of what being responsible means. I also know plenty of parents who have a heavy hand on what their kid watches/reads/whatever. Older kids might be harder to control, but if your 4-year-old son is reading a modern Batman comic, that’s your own fault. You ultimately have the power of saying ‘no’. My mom and dad said ‘no’ to me HUNDREDS of times in my young life. No to Happy Meals, comic books, toys, and video games.  But even if a violent film slipped in, my mom or dad would ALWAYS tell me that shit wasn’t real. I might have played Mortal Kombat in middle school, but I can safely say I am not ripping out people’s spines after a grueling match to the death.
Another part which irked me, was this. “Lamb asserts that today’s heroes are motivated by selfish desires, including the desire for vengeance, and not justice and the common good.” Batman became Batman because he had a desire to avenge his parents death. And in the early Action comics was a piece of shit who killed people. Both characters who not “wholesome” until a few years after they were created. “A perfect example, says Tappan, is Iron Man hero Tony Stark, an arms manufacturer and randy playboy who fights terrorists and other evildoers but seems more concerned with self-promotion and self-aggrandizement than justice.”  He was also an alcoholic. He also does fight for America, as he managed to destroy a terrorist group who had HIS own weapons. He became Iron Man because he felt he needed to defend America from terrorists. I thought that was pretty obvious since he stated it in the movie but what the fuck do I know, I don’t have a degree in this shit.
 
“Superheroes “used to be the underdog, or at least had to fight against powerful obstacles. And they could fail,” says Arcudi, author of the superhero graphic novel A God Somewhere.”  Superman wasn’t actually an underdog, neither was Batman. The foe’s golden age characters had to fight were also more real than Lex Luthor. For example, a theme in many GA books was fighting Hitler or the Japanese. The books were propaganda for America’s youth, but can we really argue against that? No. Especially when Captain America Comics #1 has Captain America punching Hitler. And really, who doesn’t love a good Captain America punching Hitler cover?

My point is, and I’ll say this again and again, parents! YOU ARE THE MOST POWERFUL INFLUENCE IN YOUR KIDS LIFE. Flex that power and stop blaming everyone else. If you allow your kid to read modern comics, fine, but they need to know these books are works of fiction. At the end of the day, your kid will listen to you, and they’ll turn out ok.

 
-Lauren

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2 Responses to “Damn you, Iron Man!”

  1. scarletsculturegarden Says:

    Parents (well not all but the ones who know that they’re not doing a good enough job for one reason or another) will ALWAYS find something else to blame. But I used to read comics LOADS when I was a bit younger (and still try to read a few here and there now when I can, which is why I keep visiting you) and I turned out just fine: everyone says so. What’s the big deal? Why do people want to hate comics so much? The pictures actually ENCOURAGE reading in young children rather than putting them off with pages and pages of nothing but text.

    Besides, there’s still a load of comics out there that have the classic hero/villain structure rather than the graphic novel approach where the lines are more blurred.

  2. Girls with Comics Says:

    Yep! I mean, how many of us comic book readers grew up to be mass murderers? Not many, infact I’d say less than 1%.

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