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Are Superheroes Negative Role Models?

A psychologist really wants us to believe so.

 I'm sure she LOVED Kick-Ass
 I'm sure she LOVED Kick-Ass

Hasn’t it been far too long since we've had a good shrieking, ill-researched study about comics? The Belfast Telegraph ’s reported some statements by University of Massachusetts psychologist, Sharon Lamb, who asserts that today’s superheroes are negative role models for young boys. That is, they're a shocking deviation from the superheroes Frederick Wertham identified as negative male models in the 50s, right? I think it’s best to just let these quotes indict this venomous machismo on their own...

"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 Iron Man, exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns."

Blah blah blah… and blah. Any of these would make great thesis statements for a hastily-researched Psych 101 paper. == TEASER ==

These presumably come from last November’s PACKING BOYHOOD: SAVING OUR SONS, SLACKERS AND OTHER MEDIA STEREOTYPES, which was a follow-up to PACKAGING GIRLHOOD: RESCUING OUR DAUGHTERS FROM MARKETER’S SCHEMES. I hope there will be a third volume in the series titled PACKAGING PARENTHOOD: CONVENIENT SCAPEGOATS FOR THE RESULTS OF BAD PARENTING.

I don’t even know where to start with these shrill soundbites. It seems like she really just has a problem with Iron Man, because those other multi-million superhero franchises I presume she takes a stab at - - SPIDER-MAN and BATMAN - - respectively star probably the most sensitive action star in movie history and a hero who’s so far from sarcastic, he’s almost humorless. And all of them suffer from the kind of “real human vulnerabilities” she’s talking about it. Unless she thinks heartbreak, alcoholism, alienation, et cetera, are solely the purview of macho he-man.

Put this next to the proposed boycott of the Fantastic Four happy meal and smile at the irony of a modern Frederick Wertham longing for the same superheroes he vilified.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here.