Recently I attended my niece’s virtual parent workshop arranged by her school. One of the attendees shared that her kid keep fascinates Captain Marvel (A character based on Marvel Comics). She even pasted posters everywhere in her bedroom. The mother seems really concerned that she asked whether her child’s behaviour is normal or does it hurt her child’s character development. The discussion went on, but I dived in a reflective mode and started recalling how I fascinate Superman in my childhood? Basically, the fictional character helped me to overcome some of the gruesome fears and anxiety in my youth. The question is, why we sometimes resonate with such fictional characters and how it impacts us?
Dr Janina Scarlet, a clinical psychologist who uses Super Hero Therapy at the CSAM, believes that we all experienced hard times in almost every phase of our lives. She suggests that identifying with fictional characters can actually be extremely beneficial as it can teach us empathy, remind us that we are not alone in our painful experience, inspire us to eat healthier, and allow us to better cope with difficult life transitions. Sometimes people who are more casual fans might think it’s strange to be so attached to fictional characters; however, it’s completely natural to have such an emotional bond with the fictional characters.
Thinking about and connecting with superheroes characters or their powers makes a person realise, reflect and think what kind of potential he/she has. This kind of attention, on the one hand, push us to identify our strengths, but on the other hand, we started to get close to the character itself. Adolescents especially who are having a hard time identifying their own thoughts and emotions due to any bitter social experiences or academic pressure, feel more connected with fictional characters. However, the similar kind of question that mother raised in the workshop was discussed by Mike Orkut in one of his articles; are superheroes, good role models, for their fan? He cited Prof Sharon Lamb research in which he asserted that modern superheroes media promotes violence and strong language in young minds. However, the original characters in comics are better role models as they are more connected to humanity.
Either Modern superheroes media or the original ones, superheroes can have a good influence on children and teach them to support others or allow them to find their strengths and develop morals. Identifying with superheroes, in fact, helps children to find solutions; it’s a tool through which children can find the courage to deal with real situations of their life. It allows them to dare, to express brave parts of themselves makes them acknowledge their vulnerabilities as elements that make them different. Kids can look up to and learn from superheroes because outside of their costumes, they are real people with real problems and vulnerabilities.
Being a teacher, I believe superheroes comics and movie does have a good effect on inspiring moral lessons on adolescents. However, without the right guidance of parents, kids could be influences by the wrong side. It is the parent’s responsibility who can enable their kids to perceive and understand the proper context of the comic/movie while enjoying admiring their superheroes idols.