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Comic Book Heroes – The Perfect Role Models

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There are some people who think that comic books are bad for kids. They think that the gender roles depicted in them are too conventional and that the muscular men and large breasted women set unrealistic beauty standards that negatively impact the self esteem of the kids that enjoy comics. I suspect that these type of people never even read comics!

Some comics are progressive in outlook. Obviously Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, who is an anarchist, generally prefers to promote left wing attitudes to gender and sexuality. Stan lee, owner of Marvel also leans toward egalitarian themes, but Steve Ditko, the creator of Spiderman, was a conservative and not interested in all that new age stuff.

Batman is one of the oldest comic book heroes of all (1939) and many accuse him of being a very reactionary character. His power comes from his strength of will, intelligence, fitness, skill and amazing technology which he has access to because he is rich. I think that Batman is a much better role model for kids than the other millionaire hero, Ironman. Bruce Wayne is polite and reserved while Tony Stark is vulgar and arrogant.

No matter how much parenting is politicised and people attempt to control every single thing that their child is exposed to, children will still instinctively enjoy heroism. Heroism is an eternal value that appears in all cultures throughout history; whether it be Odysseus in Ancient Greece, Beowulf in Old England or Captain America today. People with sociology degrees who hate the absolutism of good and bad depicted in comic books probably need some kind of translation services just so they can understand what comic book fans and kids the world over know by instinct.

I grew up reading comics like Conan the Barbarian, that doesn’t mean I feel the need to attain a body type just like his. I’m not discouraged by a depiction of an impossibly strong man, fearless in the face of evil, who destroys all his enemies without deliberation. This kind of character empowers all humanity, because it celebrates the strongest and most noble qualities of mankind. It doesn’t matter if it’s an uber-macho muscle man like Conan or an Amazonian warrior like Wonder woman don’t look like the “average” human being. Being a hero isn’t about being average, it’s about being exceptional.

I hope that children who grow up reading comics end up knowing how important it is to stand up for their values. They learn that one person can make a difference if they have strength of will and can overcome the evils of the world. It doesn’t damage their self-esteem, if anything it helps it.

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May 28, 2014