August 16, 2010: Superheroes as Bad Role Models?

Sharon Lamb, a child psychologist from the University of Massachusetts, has recently decried certain superheroes as bad role models for a generation of young boys.

The Guardian reports on her findings, citing her claim that modern heroes "exploit women, flaunt bling, and convey their manhood with high-powered guns."

    "There is a big difference in the movie superhero of today and the comic book superhero of yesterday," she said.

    "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," she said.

Superman, however, is immune from her critique. Lamb believes Superman stands for justice, fairness, and decency, but at the same time, the article uses the past tense, saying he "stood" for these things, perhaps indicating a lack of modern relevance.

She goes on, again asserting the past tense, to assert:

    ...the boys could look up to the old-style heroes such as Superman, "because outside of their costumes they were real people with real problems and many vulnerabilities". Lamb told the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in San Diego, California that adolescent boys were being sold a "narrow version of masculinity" just when they were most vulnerable and trying to forge an identity for themselves.

An audio interview with Lamb on Science Weekly, conducted on Skype, is available at this link. Skip to the 27:20 mark to hear Lamb's remarks about her theories.



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