“Saving Love Lives The World Over!”
e-mail to a friend in need
August 16, 2010
Over the weekend, the APA convention debuted the latest in a long line of studies about the psychological impact of superheroes on boys — a lineage one can trace back to Frederic Wertham’s infamous “Seduction of the Innocent” in 1954. These new studies are more rigorous than Wertham’s alarmist screed of course, but after 50 years of this sort of thing its hard to get worked up over it. Of course now the boogeyman is superhero movies, since they are more widespread than their print counterparts.
“There is a big difference in the movie superhero of today and the comic book superhero of yesterday,” said psychologist Sharon Lamb, PhD, distinguished professor of mental health at University of Massachusetts-Boston. “Today’s superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he’s aggressive, sarcastic and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity. When not in superhero costume, these men, like Ironman, exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns.”
Of course there is a big difference between today and yesterday. Since the 1980’s, comic books (and video games) have increasingly been geared toward older and older audiences (the ones with the money) — teen, then college-age, and now even post-college age men as “adultolescence” becomes more prevalent. And of course today’s movie superhero is going to be more complex, if not more violent, than his comic book counterparts (especially the Twinkie-hawking ’70s versions that researchers remember) — that’s what blockbuster-moviegoers demand. I don’t remember the achingly innocent/authentic Speed Racer movie breaking any records.
The report continues:
“In today’s media, superheroes and slackers are the only two options boys have,” said Lamb. “Boys are told, if you can’t be a superhero, you can always be a slacker. Slackers are funny, but slackers are not what boys should strive to be; slackers don’t like school and they shirk responsibility…”
They could be right about there only being two choices, superhero or slacker. Have you seen the Green Hornet trailer? In this new formulation (desecration?) of the old radio drama, Seth Rogen plays a slacker who straightens himself out after his father dies. But does he get a job? No, he becomes a superhero! I guess he grew up on these messages that Lamb has been studying.
At the convention this study was paired with another, from Researcher Carlos Santos, PhD, of Arizona State University that suggested that boys seem better adjusted in their relationships when they resist internalizing macho images.
Look, if I have learned anything about relationships from superheroes, I have learned to keep women at arms length in order to keep them safe. Also, lying about what I do at night.
April 22, 2010
Nerve lists ‘em, from Christopher Reeve as Superman to Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman to … well, we’re not telling. Check their roster and let us know what you think!
March 3, 2009
From the real-life superhero files, a superhero so super-secret even his pseudonym has a pseudonym.
From a super-secret interview on Alibi.com:
Q: Will you ever stop? What would make you consider leaving the hero role?
A. It would take a crippling injury or maybe getting married.
He says his [real] moniker is a literary allusion — let the guessing commence!
“Beware the incredible RYE CATCHER!”
“Halt or feel the verbal might of THE MOCKING BIRDKILLER!
“You’ve just been pressed by THE GRAPE WRAITH!”
Got any more?
January 21, 2009
In these trying times it’s important to think of those less fortunate than ourselves. Not everyone has the power to fight crimes of the heart. Meet some sad sack characters with Superuseless Superpowers.
You’d be the worst stalker ever if you could only achieve 99% opacity like The Slightly Invisible Man. No one would feel safe falling asleep in your arms if you had superhuman strength whilst sleeping, but that’s life for The Slumberjack (a.k.a. Hercu-zzzzzz’s). So you can’t fly your date around the world simply by sticking your arms straight out, or see through anything but their see-through negligee, but it sure is better than being the man with the lukewarm touch.
June 25, 2008
I went to see Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy at the Met in New York. These pop culture exhibits can get a little bullsh*tty with their what-does-it-all-mean? blurbs, but you’ll have fun if you go in the spirit of the craven organizers (”Superhero movie costumes will bring in the kids!”) rather than that of the hapless exhibit designers (”Well, a loosely knitted shawl is kind of Spider-Man-y, right?”). A few fashion designers actually were inspired by Superman, Wonder Woman or (Tim Burton’s) Catwoman — and here the show works as intended — but the rest is a bigger stretch than Plastic Man.
My big problem with the exhibit is that while due credit is given to the amazing designers and craftspeople that realize superhero costumes on screen, NO credit is given to the original comic book illustrators or editors that created or influenced their designs. (They may be credited on the website, but not in the exhibit itself.) It’s as if superheroes just are — like the Greek gods or something — their origins too arcane to explore, or their designs such a foregone conclusion that if Steve Ditko hadn’t picked Spider-Man’s ensemble someone else would have?
Strangest of all, there is no comic book imagery accompanying the movie costumes and haute couture creations; All the backdrops are from the films, or one of Alex Ross’ (albeit thrilling) photo-realistic paintings. Only on the last wall, crowded together as a seeming afterthought before the giftshop, do we see any comics. But what comics they are! Action Comics #1, Amazing Fantasy #15, Captain America #1, Flash Comics #1, etc.! Sadly, the most valuable items in the show — both money-wise and culture-wise — have the least value to the exhibitors.
May 30, 2008
You’re both in the Fantastic Four. Does that mean you’ll make a Fantastic Pair? Not necessarily!
Check out the Top Five Worst Superhero Marriages and Top Five Least Romantic Comics Couples as rated by the comic sites and ComicBookResources.com and Comixology.com. In most ways, these couples’ differences are more human than super-human: their various love Kryptonites include commitment-phobia, age differences, cheating spouses, skeptical friends, the slacker/striver dynamic, manipulation (in this case, of the four elements). Let’s just hope BG and The Lone Loner never make these lists!
May 5, 2008
Breakup Girl helps a dark avenger crash a super-powered singles event…