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Aug. 18th, 2010

So when I was a little kid, in my folks ridiculously big library (places for bookshelves is a key part of their real estate planning), I found a book called "All In Color For A Dime." I was fascinated because it was both about comics, as you likely already guess, a favorite read of mine, and it was a look into my parents own childhood.

Which I was convinced in black and white, since all the films and photos from that time were in black and white. No, I didn't make the leap of logic that since the comics and paintings were in color, the world was in color. I was 5-6 years old and highly imaginative. Not logical.

Anyway, the book, besides being a great read about comics through the decades, also mentioned the classic comics hysteria, stoked by "Seduction of The Innocent." Written by anti-violence advocate, it claimed comic books were contributors to youth violence and there were all sorts of 'deviant' sexual lessons being communicated.

No, he didn't write the whole thing on Wonder Woman in the 40's. (dude, read up on that period. 500 words on it and it's creator. Go.)

Now, regardless of my folks regret at introducing me to comics, scifi, and role playing, video games, and peanut, I've lived through some of these pop culture hysteria as a fan.

The great D&D wank of the 80's. ALL THE video game scares- starting with anti-porn feminists freaking about porn gameson Atari 2600's. Harry Potter freak outs. Creed leading to the douchiest not crypto-enough-christian rawk evah.

And it comes back to comics.

A U. Mass researcher (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7941690/Superheroes-send-out-wrong-message-to-boys.html) claims modern superheros are awful because they only encourage boys to be douchebag, female abusive superheroes, or school hating slackers. She also reveals a nice labor bias, claiming superheros used to be working men solving social problems.

And of course, society must be programing boys to be pro-social.

Read the article, than read more before telling me how much I butchered my summary.

Here's the thing: In every era, people will find what they think is wrong about comics, and freak out about it. In every era, people will blame media for training boys to do the wrong thing. (Sorry... not enough academics quoted in newspapers seem to worry about girls reading comics. Either they secretly like them growing up and wearing Supergirl outfits with a midriff, or they don't believe girls read anything but Potter and Twilight. Sexist bastards!!!!)

In every era, people will forget that the majority of boys who read comics are already school loving slackers, and that the boys who learn anything from comic book movies are likely way more complex than the ones who hear a pop song and want to bling it up.

Trying to find a single source to explain boys behavior and gender identity/role modeling is far too simplistic, and far too narrow. Also, not being self aware enough of your own political/gender biases undermines your credibility.

Read the article, tell me what you think. I need to sleep and dream of being a pro-feminist though very standardly masculine superhero.


Aug. 18th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Newspaper articles are very rarely multifaceted, in-depth analyses of social issues; rather, they grab on to some sensationalist soundbite and run with it. That's the case here; I'd be interested to read the entire original study, although I suspect that it's not that much better, given what I read in this article. Sometimes the prejudices really are there.

It's true that modern comics are much darker and have fewer happy-shiny redeeming social values than 40s and 50s comics...but that's true for all media these days, including television, theatre, movies, and music. Blame them, too.

And your analysis of not worrying about girls reading comics is correct; it's because girls are presumed to be off playing with Barbies and reading Twilight.
Aug. 19th, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)
Honestly, I think there are just as many positive messages in comics and other media today.

Just not the SAME positive messages.

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