Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Thoughts on Super Hero Culture (In which I ramble about Foggy Nelson and Matt Murdoch)

Heyo interweb. I can't believe it's nearing the END of APRIL already. EEEK! It's one of those things where I cannot wait to meet this baby but also there's so much to do and you think in a panic "what did I do with all my time?! Argh!!!!!" It kinda feels like the last few weeks of high school. You know your life will drastically change soon, but all you can do is watch it in fast/slow motion and kind of peer through your fingers and half watch half hide. Everything you've been working towards all of a sudden doesn't matter, and when does that switch flip? And everything you've always known will be different but the change hasn't quite happened yet even though you can see the finish line. It's limbo I tells ya! All that being said, I am trying to not let panic set in and just do what I can every day. Sounds easy enough, but as you know that can be a huge battle for me, haha. (As that's pretty much the theme of every. single. post.always.)

Also as you know I've always got several posts brewing...and before Mother's Day and all the feelings that will surely come with that day I wanted to write a post OFF TOPIC of baby ect that I've been thinking about for quite awhile;


I do quite like a good super hero tale/movie/comic. Am I obsessed with comics? No. That hasn't been my thing even though I enjoy them. I loved the Dark Knight. I loved the first Spiderman with Tobey McGuire. I really like the X-Men; especially Wolverine and Magneto (aka Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender). IRONMAN. Tony Stark is hilarious. I really have enjoyed Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix. But superheroes today have kind of morphed into something and I'm trying my best to put my finger on what bothers me, or at the very least what bothers me about people's attitudes about them.

Being a preschool teacher I see how much movies and what is going on in pop culture influences and shapes the way kids interpret the world. I mean HELLO I was/am the same way. It's the nature of things. Art influencing culture, culture influencing art and so on. As an adult you just think "Oh, this is something fun they enjoy--no worries!" But I can still remember all my favorite movies and books from childhood vividly, and every joke the Genie from Aladdin ever said is still my go to for comedy, hah! As adults our brains are used to filtering in and out things we like, don't like, are neutral towards. As a kid you pretty much take all books and movies and conversations with adults as GOSPEL. And it gets ingrained. Fast.

But the thing that has gotten out of proportion with the super hero thing is this: we are often teaching kids that the important thing about super heroes, is their ability to physical harm others with brute strength or special powers INSTEAD of focusing on the ideas of doing whats right, helping others, and putting the needs of others in front of your own. Super heroes are down for beating the crap out of someone, but they probably won't be a shoulder to cry on when you're going through a hard time. Because they're off beating the crap out of someone. For the greater good, yes. But bear with me.

Two Different Heroes: Foggy Nelson vs Matt Murdoch
I think we're getting away from telling kids that it takes real courage and heroism to simply live a life of doing the right thing. Not in a martyrish way, or becoming a nun or a monk. Hear me out. I know usually the super hero has two identities and sometimes is a do-gooder in some way IRL.  Like Matt Murdoch or Clark Kent.  When it comes to Daredevil, (at least the Netflix series) I often think of Matt's lawyer sidekick friend Foggy as the hero; or as the more relatable hero. (Matt is also a hero of course).  Back to Foggy; he is brave, he takes risks, but in a real life way that you can see happening in your own life.  Like when he went to the biker gangs lair (can't remember what they're called...don't hate) to see someone he thought could help them with their case--he is constantly talking his way out of getting his butt kicked literally or figuratively (it reminds me of the Doctor)!  Or when he stood up to the District Attorney and used his knowledge of the law to not be bullied. (Because let's face it...most bullying/pushing around happens in words and everyday conversations and situations, not always with ninjas or Ra's Al Ghul in a dark alley). I really like that Foggy does his very best to help those around him, but he also takes time to be with friends and actually be a person. Like he actually goes home to sleep for 5 hours after a long day of helping people at his law practice and being supportive of Karen (even though she's in love with Matt WHO IS ALWAYS DISAPPEARING ON THEM), to get back up and start over again. Putting in the work. Studying. Pouring over cases. Spending time with clients.  He's honest with his friends about who is. He is not leading a double life. So the flip side; for Matt Murdoch (Daredevil), he's using something terrible that happened to him (a car accident, acid taking away his eye sight but ultimately giving the rest of his senses a helpful boost, anger and sadness over losing his dad when he was a child) and doing his best to use the tragedy and turn it into something he can use for good. That's admirable, and I think that's an important lesson for kids. The Bible says "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive" Genesis 50:20. It's good for kids to know that yes, bad things can/will happen to us but with God's help we can learn and grow from those things and turn out better and stronger in the long run. Mentally stronger, emotionally stronger, physically stronger, whatever the situation is. I do like that Matt doesn't ever want or intend to kill anyone, even "bad guys". As he is a lawyer by day, he knows the law isn't perfect by any means, but knows it isn't his job to determine who lives or dies (this character is very strongly catholic, which I think adds a very interesting perspective to his character). But what I see kids taking away from this? They see Matt as the only hero. Because he beats up people. (Which is pretty amazing considering he cannot see), but still. They don't take away that his lifestyle of leading a double life hurts those around him. They constantly wonder why he doesn't show up for work, return phone calls, ect. Foggy agonizes over whether or not Matt will be alive the next day. Matt's brand of heroism becomes like an addiction, he lives like an addict. He can't stop fighting. He can't stop lying. He can't stop letting down those closest to him (even if mostly for a good cause). I see Matt and Foggy as two different aspects that could be meshed together to create one well rounded super hero, but I guess where's the fun in a super hero who needs down time and has a personal life, LOL.

(That being said, I do very much appreciate that Tony Stark owns being Ironman, hahahahaha--no double life for that hero! He'll take all the credit thank you very much and I love it).

I know the super hero thing is a framework to show good vs evil, and to show we can stand up for what is right. Sometimes I think we oversimplify it though, and focus on the aspects of "being a hero" that glorify violence for violence sake as I mentioned above. Without really considering the consequences. And don't get me wrong, I do love a good action movie! Sometimes people gotta get redshirted, its how you move the plot along, am I right?!

I think what I'm ultimately trying to say is that we need to teach kids to use their own strengths to help others--that there are SO MANY WAYS to be heroic. And not necessarily just physical strengths.  Standing up for a friend who is getting made fun of, that's being a hero. Offering a listening ear when someone is upset. Quietly doing the right thing, especially (especially!!!!) when no one else is looking. The list goes on and on. And for some people? Their strengths really are in physically putting their own lives on the line to help others; police officers, fire fighters, men and women in the special forces, the list goes on. And that is something to be very honored!  We gotta be careful what we glorify and what we gloss over. We gotta let them know doing the right thing is often really scary and really hard. But so worth it. I think kids see heroes as going into all these situations and being totally and utterly fearless. Um, it's smart to be scared sometimes!!! It's called common sense.

Ok, I'm not sure how to end this. So I'll sign off for now. To go wait for 2 more years for another season of Daredevil, hehe.

*Also, I'd be the worst at being a super hero. I need too much sleep and consistency. Regular meals. I couldn't do the long nights, all the lying...wearing a super tight suit. I would chafe SO MUCH. And sweat!  I'd be asking for yoga pants and extra wide running shoes and needing to pack things like extra deodorant, hair ties, granola bars, SO MANY WATER BOTTLES!  Forgetting to charge any of my gear that needs charged. Injuring myself due to user error with any of the gear. I'm afraid of heights!!!!! I have a nervous stomach!!!! The list goes on. I'm more of a desk job hero I guess. I'll take it. The Avengers will thank me not to join them. Maybe I could handle being Deadpool's cab driver. Who am I kidding, I get very stressed out in traffic.

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