Hellish Week

10 09 2010

On top of it being a shorter week than normal due to the holiday traveling madness, I’ve been working on the day job issues with interviews and physical ability tests. It’s kind of like there are two me’s running about. The other me has had the floor a lot in the last few days. He ran up an 85 foot aerial ladder on a fire truck on Wednesday morning and had a second job interview yesterday afternoon and that’s occupied most of his thought. Day job me is one busy, busy boy.

This is not to say I haven’t been reading and haven’t acquired a number of things I’d like to react to, but it’s unlikely I’ll get to them in great detail, so here are the thoughts in short form:

Batman: an iconic superhero whose powers are r...

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Superheroes as bad role models for boys? (see here, here and here)

This has been reported everywhere, but here it goes again. At a recent conference of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Sharon Lamb, EdD presented the findings of her study into superhero role models for boys. She surveyed 674 boys, found out what they liked, read/viewed the findings of that survey herself, and determined that comic book heroes offer only two stereotypes for boys to become: either be a narcissistic, aggressive bully or become sarcastic, disconnected slackers. I find this more than a little harsh and, though I have to admit I’ve not read the details of the study or seen the methodology, it’s my contention that in a lot of educational research (or social studies or literary), it’s difficult to attempt to gather real empirical data and, as a consequence, I think studies in those fields can be prone to observer bias.

All I can think is she must be reacting to Tony Stark. But come on, Batman in the Dark Knight offers himself as a villain-figure to save the image of Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, as Lt. Gordon says: “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves. But not the one it needs right now. And so we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent gaurdian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.” The message drilled into every single 5 minutes of the Spiderman movies is “with great power, comes great responsibility” and we witness Peter Parker repeatedly sacrificing his personal happiness for the good of others.

I’m not contesting that there’s no validity to the characteristics she presents. I think some heroes are narcissistic. They’re all certainly fallible, because we’ve moved past an age of “perfection” and are now in a phase where we wish to see “human” figures overcome their weaknesses. But they’re ultimately still principled beings. That’s what’s most important. I don’t think their being human and with some fault is a strike against them. On the contrary, I think in our world, when issues of good and evil are understandably far more complex and a lot less cut-and-dry than they were 50 years ago, we need rolemodels who show how to become better through sacrifice, through overcoming and abandoning our faults and through sticking to a code of honor.

That’s why I feel that it’s just a shame that in a social sciences observation, it’s often possible to skip observation and instead proceed to whatever axe one has to grind and then seek evidence to support that. Honestly, no where in comics does she see the archetype of protector? My son Max does. He’s 2. He says that Spiderman saves people. I’m glad he sees that. I do think that there are values there that go beyond the two stereotypes she presents.

Fordson Football Documentary

When the conversation of the week has been about Ground Zero, the wacko Qur’an burning guy in Florida and even here, in Middle Tennessee, the arson at the proposed site for a mosque in Murfreesboro, I’m hopeful that this documentary gets more traction, because racism and religious hatred is stupid. End of discussion:

From the Department of Things I Don’t Understand

Amish romance. Apparently it’s a trend. Somehow I missed that, but having studied and worked in the German Department at Penn State, I know a lot of people who could probably write some pretty convincing Amish love-stories/porn. Imagine me shrugging and shaking my head ever-so-slightly. That’s where I am right now.

Unfortunately, I was hoping that the YA vampire romance would give way to YA ghost or even robot love. Alas, Amish it is.

Man up

Ben Zimmer’s On Language column about the phrase “man up” has me grinning. I think we need more manning up. I might need to man up more myself (although, hey, like I said, I went up an 85 foot aerial at 7am on Wednesday. That should get me some man cred, right?). Regardless, the Zombieland quote: “Nut up or Shut up!” and the Rabbi Polish’s appropriation of “mensch up” has me cracking up. Win.

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