The Corruption of Youth – Superhero Style


Someday I think I am going to write a book called blameology. It seems that with each passing day I grow more and more frustrated with people’s inability to take personal responsibility. I grow tired of so called “experts” pointing the finger at whatever happens to look like the new bad guy on the block. It is always someone else’s fault and rarely do any of these finger pointers actually have one bit of good science or data.

Over the past decade there was large amounts of finger pointing at the video game industry over desensitizing the youth of America to violence. This despite the growing evidence that crime among teens was going down, not up. Didn’t stop people from getting on their pulpit and blaming video games. Video games were the sexy target and were pursued with gusto. They didn’t have an ounce of reproducible data though. Most of them were just going on their gut feeling.

I wasn’t all that shocked to read an article in the paper this morning claiming the modern superhero is a bad role model and was damaging young boys. It had all the usual key words, violence, arrogance, selfishness, aggression, sexism.

This claim was being thrown out into the world by professor Sharon Lamb at the American Psychological Association Convention. She based her findings on a very small study of boys from 4 – 18 years old. I did a quick Google search and was not surprised to see the story getting picked up everywhere. The main reason is she picked Iron Man to go after. Right there I knew the study was a crock of shit. You only pick Iron Man because it is a big movie franchise. There are actually superheroes out there much worse than Iron Man but they don’t get you the juice to appear in papers.

Not one of the articles actually reported on what questions were asked and I noticed quickly that every interview with Professor Lamb she always used the classic wiggle room word, “may”. It may do this and it may do that. Then she started spouting nonsense like superheroes used to be real people out of their costumes with real problems. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize this is a psychologist who has actually done very little reading, research, or watching of the modern superhero. She was spouting bullshit and nonsense.

This report was no different than the video game argument before it or the rock music one or Elvis will lead all teenagers to sin. Adults have been crying wolf over bad influences for children for the last 100 years (probably longer). Unsurprisingly, most of the earlier claims turned up as nothing more than balderdash. Just another so called “expert” looking down their nose at something they don’t really understand and then grandstanding in front of the media to get their names splashed all over the place. I think there are probably a lot of things out there which are influencing children negatively but superheroes aren’t one of them.

About csdaley

C.S. Daley was born in California but has spent most of his life in his imagination. His first short story written in third grade, the now classic "Close Encounters of the Turd Kind," was sold to his next door neighbor for a quarter. The neighbor promptly demanded a refund. An unhealthy obsession with the writings of Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, and Terry Pratchett have left his mind warped and broken. He spends most of his evening swilling down coffee while tapping at a keyboard under the watchful eyes of his kittens. They are there to make sure he doesn't snap. He likes to write fantasy for adults and teens.

One Response to “The Corruption of Youth – Superhero Style”

  1. >superheroes? i think they are a good role model. and look, tony stark is super smart, so he teaches kids that they should start using their smarts, and maybe they can create cool robot bodysuit thingies too.

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