Are Superheroes Negative Role Models?

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Posted by No_name_here (1247 posts) - - Show Bio

 I'm sure she LOVED Kick-Ass

Hasn’t it been far too long since we've had a good shrieking, ill-researched study about comics? The Belfast Telegraph ’s reported some statements by University of Massachusetts psychologist, Sharon Lamb, who asserts that today’s superheroes are negative role models for young boys. That is, they're a shocking deviation from the superheroes Frederick Wertham identified as negative male models in the 50s, right? I think it’s best to just let these quotes indict this venomous machismo on their own...

"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 Iron Man, exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns."

Blah blah blah… and blah. Any of these would make great thesis statements for a hastily-researched Psych 101 paper. == TEASER ==


I don’t even know where to start with these shrill soundbites. It seems like she really just has a problem with Iron Man, because those other multi-million superhero franchises I presume she takes a stab at - - SPIDER-MAN and BATMAN - - respectively star probably the most sensitive action star in movie history and a hero who’s so far from sarcastic, he’s almost humorless. And all of them suffer from the kind of “real human vulnerabilities” she’s talking about it. Unless she thinks heartbreak, alcoholism, alienation, et cetera, are solely the purview of macho he-man.

Put this next to the proposed boycott of the Fantastic Four happy meal and smile at the irony of a modern Frederick Wertham longing for the same superheroes he vilified.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here.

#1 Posted by Dracade102 (8451 posts) - - Show Bio

Only Some are...  
Punisher = BAD. 
Superman = GOOD!

#2 Posted by ComicMan24 (147411 posts) - - Show Bio

She obviously never read Superman or Spider-Man. Come on, these are nonsense.

#3 Posted by RapidEyeMovement (4 posts) - - Show Bio

Presumably, this psychologist has never actually read a comic book (poor research) and is referring only to superheroes as portrayed in movies. In which case, I actually agree with her to some degree. It's part of the reason I've been strongly advocating a Superman movie: We need true blue heroes again, and not just in superhero movies.
#4 Posted by SpidermanWins (4142 posts) - - Show Bio
@ComicMan24 said:
" She obviously never read Superman or Spider-Man. Come on, these are nonsense. "
#5 Posted by sora_thekey (8637 posts) - - Show Bio

Since when are Iron Man, Kick Ass, etc...  comics for young boys?
My uncle came with me to the comic book store the other day because he wanted to see what my "world" was like.. and he was shocked to see the covers of Grim Tales... he told me: "and these are read by kids?"
I explained to him that comic books like movies, regular book and TV shows had genres for different ages... So he shouldn't think that they are for kids...

#6 Posted by NightFang (10801 posts) - - Show Bio
@Dracade102 said:
"Punisher = BAD, Superman = GOOD!"
#7 Posted by EdwardWindsor (14517 posts) - - Show Bio

Morals wise there are  quite a few who are fit to be role modles. But in terms of general behaviour very few are fit to be so.

#8 Posted by Citizen 14 (1223 posts) - - Show Bio

really? thats stupid. 
this "psychologist" must of never picked up a comic.
she can get bent and do research before talking nonsesne.
 She doesnt know was nerd-rage is like.

#9 Posted by Zniperking (292 posts) - - Show Bio

psychologists don't know S@#T

#10 Posted by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio

  Read Kingdom Come and tell me what Captain Marvel does at the end isn't a great role model -ish thing to do.

#11 Posted by Silver Knight75 (1250 posts) - - Show Bio

There may be some that can be interpreted as bad influences like Punisher, Constantine and Spawn  but the fact of the matter is that most superheroes do retain great values. 

#12 Posted by reaper2922 (55 posts) - - Show Bio

I think superheroes are a positive influence even such ones as kick-ass and punisher

#13 Posted by Tevnoba (3449 posts) - - Show Bio

Paper is not incorrect, but very limited in perspective, IMO.

#14 Posted by Kamen Rider Kajiki (1218 posts) - - Show Bio

 @RapidEyeMovement said:

" Presumably, this psychologist has never actually read a comic book (poor research) and is referring only to superheroes as portrayed in movies. In which case, I actually agree with her to some degree. It's part of the reason I've been strongly advocating a Superman movie: We need true blue heroes again, and not just in superhero movies. "
Totally agreed This lady obviously neglected her research by looking more at the movies then the comics and only chose the worst of the worst.
As for the movies. This is why i mostly watch Japanese Super Hero movies like Zebraman and Yatterman at least those admit to be true heroes!! I also watch Kamen Rider which is pretty much 40 years of true blue super hero action!! ^^
#15 Posted by longbowhunter (8484 posts) - - Show Bio

I've never seen the value in having a role model. Even the best ones are flawed.
#16 Posted by Namor1987 (2096 posts) - - Show Bio

She's only picking out what she wants to see. You noticed how she purposely left out the positive hero but she singled out Kick-Ass & Iron Man two anti-heroes. She's an imbecile who only wants to believe what she wants to believe instead of doing her research. She can bite my @$$

#17 Posted by DoctorDisco95 (9 posts) - - Show Bio

She's just doing this so she can get another award. 
The Butt kisser

#18 Posted by Captain13 (4326 posts) - - Show Bio

Well my entire sense of morality comes from Superheroes and Catholicism so...

#19 Posted by XFan616 (131 posts) - - Show Bio

Agree with the general consensus. She's never read a comic, only watched the movies. And even then she seems to have skipped over EVERYTHING WITH SUPERMAN AND SPIDER-MAN and gone straight to Iron Man and possibly Punisher or Blade.
Honestly one of my all time role models (in EVERYTHING) is Nightcrawler. He's just incredible. He's always positive despite being arguably the most controversial hero (in the comics) or at least in the X-Men, he knows when to lead and when to follow, when to laugh and when to be serious, and he freaking DIED for what he believes in. If that's not a positive rolemodel, I don't know what is.

#20 Posted by Joey Ravn (394 posts) - - Show Bio

Dr... Wertham? F*ck, I traveled back to the 1950s... AGAIN!

#21 Posted by spider-man 2996 (726 posts) - - Show Bio


#22 Edited by Pizawle (1080 posts) - - Show Bio

What is it with psychologists with the surname Lamb?

#23 Posted by BKole (560 posts) - - Show Bio

Same as every argument put forward by every Adult who doesn't understand the way kids thinks or young people think because they've lost it. They've been brow beaten by the world into thinking being an adult is having a suit and working and being boring and stuff. 
It isn't. It's about knowing right and wrong, and to be honest if you're going to blame comics for kids punching each other in the guts instead of the parents, or blame TV for it instead of the cultures that people are allowing children to go into, then you're a f&^king idiot. 

#24 Edited by Nyogtha (356 posts) - - Show Bio

This is another moral majority nutjob trying to group the entire medium into a small box because her world doesn't go past the Leave it to Beaver family. This is a beyond flawed statement because of what you all said, limited research. You look for an Elephant, you will find an Elephant. You look for a bad role model you will find it. Of course Iron Man is an douche bag. THAT IS HOW HE IS WRITTEN! He was never written as a role model. 
You look at Captain America, Spiderman, Silver Surfer, Mar-Vell, John Stewart, Thor, Ghost Rider, Batman, Black Panther, Professor X and Shazam Plus, the more violent ones like Moonknight, Punisher, Wolverine, Hulk, Iron Man, Daredevil ect. Show boys (in a round about way) to do the right thing no matter what.

#25 Posted by whirlwind6 (309 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it all depends on what characters she's thinking of.  Iron Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, etc., are good characters (except Wolverine, who I can't stand), but awful role models if you think about it....  On the other hand, Spider-man and Captain America are both better role models than the president....
#26 Posted by ShirEPanjshir (603 posts) - - Show Bio

This is just another pathetic attempt at blaming the bad apples their behavior at some external element. If it aren't games, it's the movies they watch, if it aren't the movies, it's the comic books they read.
Blah blah. Just face it, if children behave bad, it's because they're raised in a bad way. I'm pretty sure that any child that's well-raised by his/her family can perfectly read Iron Man comics without ever going on a killing spree / mistreating women / abusing alcohol and whatever.
It's like the dumb-ass study that concludes that if a youngster lights himself on fire, it's a 100% the fault of an Human Torch toy. Totally not because the youngster is either deeply-troubled or an idiot. Or both.

#27 Posted by TheMess1428 (2211 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe I will put on a superhero costume and go show her some non-stop violence if you know what I mean...

#28 Posted by danhimself (21257 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm sorry but while I love comic books and the characters why would you use a fictional character as a role model?

#29 Posted by The Average Bear (2245 posts) - - Show Bio
"...aggressive and sarcastic...". Please. A hero ain't a hero without some hero-banter. Dr.Boring, please grow a sense of humor. Unless you think that's negative, too.
#30 Posted by IronSpidy-Rooney (371 posts) - - Show Bio

Look people seem to need a reason to bitch about everything  
Superheros will give us a reason eventually

#31 Posted by IronSpidy-Rooney (371 posts) - - Show Bio
@reaper2922: Kick-ass fought for the reasons most heroes do 
#32 Posted by Rosebunse (156 posts) - - Show Bio

Dude, part of growing up a nerd is knowing that alot of these people are pretty horrible and that's why they have to be set apart from normal people. Heck, we're all in on the joke. It's only idiots who actually think most people take super hero stuff seriously, and they ruin it for the rest of us! Any normal child is going to figure out that it's not real. We take the good along with the bad, just like we do with all role models.
#33 Posted by mistrx75 (209 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe vigilantism in the real world is questionable, but super heroes in general?  What?

#34 Posted by Shadow_Thief (2511 posts) - - Show Bio where are the role models, if I may ask? Should our children be looking up to the politicians that give tax cuts to the major corporations while the working class suffers, the religious leaders that turn a blind eye to the financial and sometimes sexual exploitation of their congregations, the athletes who abuse performance-enhancing substances, or perhaps the researchers who are more interested in advancing an agenda than objectively expanding the frontiers of knowledge? 
There's always some prophet of doom pounding a pulpit about how something is "destroying the youth of our world," be it comics, movies, video games, TV shows, or music. If you want a role model for you children, then BE a role model. Teach them when to fight what they feel is right, and when to compromise. Teach them to respect and have compassion for others. Teach them the difference between fantasy and reality. Above all, demonstrate that these concepts aren't mere rhetoric; live them yourself. Do this, and I can guarantee your kids will grow up to be splendid citizens, no matter how many people they see the Punisher shoot or the Thing clobber.

#35 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (2135 posts) - - Show Bio

I always wanted to be a Superhero, I still kind of want too, but after seeing kick-ass, It makes me think of how stpuid that idea sounds.
#36 Posted by Eyz (3184 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, Spidey's not exactly a role model for children, ya know. Making deals with the devil and all...

#37 Posted by Krakoa (815 posts) - - Show Bio
@Joey Ravn said:
" Dr... Wertham? F*ck, I traveled back to the 1950s... AGAIN! "
You gotta watch that man, it could be busted transmission. 
#38 Posted by Chaos Burn (1876 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't believe Dark Knight or Ironman would be a good film to set your kids morales on... but their character has been the same since they were created

#39 Posted by KNIGHT SAVIOR (1104 posts) - - Show Bio

there we go, another woman who want to cut off the b**ls of men and make them super-senstive wimps
#40 Posted by burningmidnight (227 posts) - - Show Bio

One of the reasons why I don't like  psychologists and/or Psychology. 

#41 Posted by GundamHeavyarms (703 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree with other statements that say she clearly  just watched the movies and didnt even bother reading the comics.  Its just like that story about the human torch toys.   Some people just have to take something that people like and poke holes in it.
#42 Posted by ninjadude853 (286 posts) - - Show Bio

okay, first off, 
second, people who dress up in costumes and go out in the middle of the night or skip out of their school and/or job specifically to fight crime by beating up criminals ARE BAD ROLE MODELS!?!?!?!

#43 Posted by ReverseNegative (2974 posts) - - Show Bio

Superheroes are probably the best role models around. They do good for their community and ask for nothing in return. They don't even want people to know who they are.

#44 Posted by Primmaster64 (21662 posts) - - Show Bio
@Dracade102 said:

Only Some are...  
Punisher = BAD. 
Superman = GOOD!


#45 Posted by ARMIV (3927 posts) - - Show Bio

Psychologists who spend such time and effort to "fully understand" and create philosophies of fictional characters make me so angry that it's funny.
#46 Posted by RedHurricane24 (284 posts) - - Show Bio

I can yak on and on in the same degree of inanity as this supposed psychologist has done, but all I can say is, blessed are the meek, right? Blessed are the meek, because she barely scratches the surface of the super-hero genre, with her all too negative and poorly planned retort towards the genre. In Iron Man's case, she can say all she wants that all Tony Stark does is show off. What she failed to acknowledge, he overcame alcoholism and a failing heart problem.
In closure, if I were to have a son or a daughter that dreams of being the next Batman or Batwoman, I'm not going to pander them and criticize their choice. I'm going to applaud it, because at least that child wouldn't want to be something worse than that, say, a drug peddler, a killer, a rapist... I can go on and on.

#47 Edited by Joey Ravn (394 posts) - - Show Bio
#48 Posted by Jotham (4577 posts) - - Show Bio

"...exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns." It sounds like she picked up one Liefeld comic from the 90's and based her whole paper on it. Even so, I can't think of who she's talking about.

#49 Posted by Unwritten Duck (110 posts) - - Show Bio

I first heard about this article this morning and I actually read the whole thing. Now I agree that this was all hastily researched. There is only one point of the article that I actually agree with and that is that: "Not all Superheroes are positive role models for boys." To be honest, I don't think Kick-Ass or Iron Man are good role models for the young. 
Still parents do not like to believe that they made a mistake while raising their child, so what does society do? They find something to blame their mistakes on. In this case it's comic book superheroes. Point being is that not everything released is meant for the "young", and the parent should take more interest in what their child is interested in and point out what is right and what is wrong about it. 
On a minor note: I'm still having a hard time believing that the article had the word "Bling" written in it. Is that an actual word in the Webster Dictionary now? Seriously what happened to the Professors that used actual words like "wealth" instead of slang terms. What is our society coming to?
#50 Posted by GraphicCasualFreak (347 posts) - - Show Bio

Apparently this guy doesn't read Superman. 

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