Posted by: laughs4dads | August 18, 2010

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Lame Claim

Sometimes it seems that there are only two kinds of childhood experts: those who blame parents for everything and those who blame everyone but parents for everything.

It’s the second category in the spotlight this week, and they’re putting the blame squarely on the muscular shoulders of…superheroes.

The Telegraph of Great Britain reports that “watching superheroes beat up villains may not be the best image for boys to see if society wants to promote kinder, less stereotypical male behaviours.”

At first, I was ready to respond to this by pointing out that Great Britain knows nothing about superheroes, since the closest thing they’ve ever had to one is David Beckham, and that, in general, the Brits spend waaayyyy too much time inserting “u’s” where they don’t belong. But then I realized that the source of this new research was America, land of, well, Captain America.

In case there was any doubt, the researcher who believes that “beating up villains” is stereotypical male behavior is a woman, specifically Dr. Sharon Lamb of the University of Massachusetts.

“There is a big difference in the movie superhero of today and the comic book superhero of yesterday,” Dr Lamb told the annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

That is certainly true. Today’s movie superheroes can talk without the aid of little balloons. And by the way, how much fun must that convention be?

“Today’s superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence,” Dr. Lamb continued. “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.”

Well, first, I believe that a non-action superhero would be really boring. (“Help us, Couch Potato Man! Your arch enemy, Irma Inertia has teamed up with The Procrastinator, and they’re thinking of hatching a dastardly plot some time next week!”)

Second, have you seen the people who idolize superheroes? They would have to undergo total makeovers and have a few million dollars in a bank account before they could get near enough to a woman to exploit her. I also think Dr. Lamb has spent too much time in the Marvel universe instead of the DC universe, where I spent most of my unsarcastic childhood. The closest thing the DC heroes came to a high-powered gun was Green Arrow’s bow. They did have bling, though; that’s how Green Lantern got his power.

Speaking of which, Dr. Lamb also said that original superheroes like the Green Lantern, who was a railroad engineer, were invented to fight for social justice and were a reaction to the rise of fascism.

A railroad engineer! My god! She’s going all the way back to the Golden Age!

The world was a simpler place back when we were fighting the Nazis. There was no sarcasm back then, and certainly no irony. And everyone knew their place: men on the battlefield, superheroes at Justice League headquarters, and women in the kitchen. And Marvel was just a little spark in Stan Lee’s eye.

Things are just a tad different now, wouldn’t you say, Dr. Lamb?

But speaking of irony, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: “experts” blaming comic book heroes for youth’s indiscretions. Only back then, politicians were trying to ban comic books–featuring the very same classic superheroes Dr. Lamb is pointing to as being exemplary role models–because they were turning America’s young men into juvenile delinquents singing “Officer Krumpke” in our schoolyards.

Look, when there’s news of a plane going down because it smacked into a flock of flying fanboys, then I’ll give Dr. Lamb and her cohorts some credence. Until then, here’s the deal: the only time any role model can overly influence (to the good or the bad) any young person (boy or girl) is when something else is missing from that young person’s life. Like a good parental relationship.

But wait. Dr. Lamb is not quite finished:

“In today’s media, superheroes and slackers are the only two options boys have. Boys are told, if you can’t be a superhero, you can always be a slacker.”

That shows you how out-of-touch Dr. Lamb is. Because, in today’s media, there’s a third option: become a vampire.



  1. Hysterical and right on the money! Couch Potato Man! Irma Inertia! Brilliant!

    ( ok, maybe I’ve had too much coffee already this morning… )


  2. people are stupid

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