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Today's Superheroes Send Wrong Image to Boys, Say Researchers


WestVirginiaRebel

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WestVirginiaRebel
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Science Daily:

Watching superheroes beat up villains may not be the best image for boys to see if society wants to promote kinder, less stereotypical male behaviors, according to psychologists who spoke Sunday at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

"There is a big difference in the movie superhero of today and the comic book superhero of yesterday," said psychologist Sharon Lamb, PhD, distinguished professor of mental health at University of Massachusetts-Boston. "Today's superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; 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."

The comic book heroes of the past did fight criminals, she said, "but these were heroes boys could look up to and learn from because outside of their costumes, they were real people with real problems and many vulnerabilities," she said.

To understand how the media and marketers package masculinity to boys, Lamb surveyed 674 boys age 4 to 18, walked through malls and talked to sales clerks and came to understand what boys were reading and watching on television and at the movies. She and her co-authors found that marketers take advantage of boys' need to forge their identity in adolescence and sell them a narrow version of masculinity. They can either be a "player" or a "slacker" -- the guy who never even tries -- to save face.

"In today's media, superheroes and slackers are the only two options boys have," said Lamb. "Boys are told, if you can't be a superhero, you can always be a slacker. Slackers are funny, but slackers are not what boys should strive to be; slackers don't like school and they shirk responsibility. We wonder if the messages boys get about saving face through glorified slacking could be affecting their performance in school."
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These "Researchers" sound like the Joker's psychiatrist in "The Dark Knight Returns." There were plenty of macho superheroes back in the day. In fact, you could argue that some of today's heroes are too un-macho in our metrosexual, politically correct age.
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These "Researchers" sound like the Joker's psychiatrist in "The Dark Knight Returns." There were plenty of macho superheroes back in the day. In fact, you could argue that some of today's heroes are too un-macho in our metrosexual, politically correct age.

Totally agree with you on this, WVR!

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