Typical Fan: The Psychology of why we need Superheroes

CapAmerica_spiderman_dod

Video games, comic books and super heroes in general are seeping into every crevice of the Pop Culture landscape. An estimated 150,000+ attendees of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con which will have an estimated $140 million positive impact on the economy. Still not convinced? Maybe the $1.5 billion box office income of 2012’s Avengers movie or the well over $1 billion estimated income of this year’s Black Panther will help you see that its easy to see that super heroes are extremely popular. As previously said, the popularity goes well beyond the movies; and is seeping all over the Pop Culture landscape. So why do we need superheroes? What is the draw to invest so much of our time, money, and emotions into these superheroes? Why do these super heroes and even villains receive so much idolization thusly becoming role models to children and adults alike? Why do hardcore fans stick around after the increase in popularity and commercialism of the industry?

SamsonFoxFeatureComicsThe term ‘superhero’ was not used until 1917 and was very popular during the Golden Age of Comics (the 1930s). The current Modern Age of comics brought about more psychologically complex characters, as well as a larger audience base. Many have claimed that superheroes are an integral part of American society; and despite some otherworldly aspects, comics are a reflection of our world. During World War II, Marvel famously showed Captain America punching Hitler in the face. Then years later (after finding out that President Obama collected Spider-Man comics), Marvel put Obama on the cover of their The Amazing Spider-Man issue No 583 where ‘Spidey meets the President’. Continuing to address and be on the forefront of social issues, in 1992 Marvel revealed Northstar to be a homosexual. Comic books and super heroes writers seem to mirror our lives, which in turn makes them even more relatable.

So we have established that the evolution of comics and superheroes themselves sometimes reflect the events that are happening around us as well as address the societal problems that our world is facing; but what about our idolizing relationship to a superhero? As we readIron Man Repulsors comics, especially the young audience, we not only increase our ability to read and understand more complex works; but we develop emotions and morals. Take for example, Tony Stark. Despite Tony’s celebrity status and the ultra-powerful Iron Man suit…he is a broken character. Throughout the years of Iron Man comics, the Tony Stark/Iron Man character has had to deal with insecurities due to his broken relationship with his father, has suffered from alcoholism, suffered panic attacks and even bouts of paranoia. This flawed character, much like many other comic book superheroes, help us see the human qualities and make us look at ourselves. But like fairytales and children stories, superhero stories serve a didactic purpose. Most superheroes teach the reader how to succeed in life. Whether that success is to better the world around them and defeat evil villains or just by demonstrating exemplary behavior. On the basic level, they educate readers between right and wrong.

When we are little, most of us pretend to be law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, cowboys, or someone in the armed forces. The same principles that cause use to look up to those people, are the same reasons they pretend to be Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man, or Superman. These superheroes are larger-than-life, epic characters that do anything to take away evil and make things right. We admire paramedics, Marines, firemen, etc. because they help save us in our times of need. The Stamp_Day_for_Supermanpsychological theory called terror management theory proposes that people’s fear of death strengthens their allegiance to certain cultural values. For example, during times that we witness evil and death a typical response would be for us to think more about the fragility of life and it leads us to value heroes even more. Heroes also fulfill our need for fairness and lawfulness, which is sometimes lost in our normal everyday lives. In the 1950s Superman TV show always spoke of Superman’s never-ending quest for “truth, justice, and the American way”. They bring us hope.

While video game characters, comic books and superheroes of all types are exaggerated WonderCon_2012_-_Captain_America_and_girl_Captain_America_(7019315865)examples of what traits we hope to exhibit, they fill a purpose. We admire the masked superhero. The prosocial behavior has a positive impact on the readers/players. We sometimes find ourselves escaping the setbacks and failings that we are experiencing in our own lives; and we are living vicariously through these characters. Sometimes these characters help us face real adversity in our lives. Giving us courage and inspiring us to overcome health problems, failures, or even just the everyday challenges that we find. Heroes lift us up on a personal level by allowing us to compare and contrast the traits that they portray; and allow us to personify the best parts of their personalities, ethical commitments, and moral traits.

My son, Daniel, may have said it best when he said that when he’s watching a good movie or playing video games that he can forget about stressors, homework or chores; and just be lost in that character’s world. The characters that we play, watch, read, cosplay, or enjoy are sometimes flawed souls with admirable intentions. Just like normal life, we can be flawed and be successful. We can have complex backstories and have different motivations. We will continue to love and idolize these characters because we see a little bit of ourselves in them…or maybe we see something that we want to add to our own story.


Images:

Featured Image – Spidey cosplayer hugging a girl by US Defense Dept. – http://www.defenselink.mil/home/images/photos/2005-04/photoessays/pi20050428d11.jpg, Public Domain, http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=124594
Fox Comics featuring Samson‘s original uploader was Konczewski at English Wikipedia – Grand Comic Book Database (http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=574), Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Hyju., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17710516
Firefly, the Archie Comics Superhero in Top-Notch Comics #10. November 1940 by and accredited to Bob Wood, – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Hyju., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17798406
Iron Man Repulsers Cosplay By Chris Favero from USA – CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34364573
Captain America and girl Captain America at WonderCon 2012 by and accredited to The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA – CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33398682
Screen Capture of George Reeves as Superman in the US Government Film “Stamp Day for Superman” by and accredited to U.S. Treasury Department – United States Treasury Department film, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13616319
Spider-Man with Donald Rumsfeld by and accredited to US Defense Dept. – Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6265138
Advertisements

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Iconic Swimsuit Moments

Barris_Marilyn_MonroeThe entertainment industry is an ever changing field. Movies and television shows are constantly attempting to produce better and better content. Sometimes this content climbs to the precipice and we are left with an iconic scene that you will have no qualms about keeping in the annals of your mind forever. I, of course, am referring to the most infamous and iconic swimsuit moments in movie and television history.

So I (with help from my wife) racked my brain to present to you Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Iconic Swim Suit Moments. 


norbit

To start us off, I’ll hit you with my Honorable Mention: Eddie Murphy in Norbit – Eddie Murphy and his brother Charlie (RIP) wrote a movie in an attempt to coast on the success of Eddie’s 1996 hit rasputiaThe Nutty Professor and its sequel The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. But alas the romantic comedy was negatively received by critics and viewers alike. I got about ten minutes into the movie and there were no redeeming qualities that would make me not regret the rental. Well there was one redeeming, regretfully disgusting part of the movie. Eddie, as we said earlier, tried to coast on the popularity of The Nutty Professor, dressed up as mild-mannered Norbit and his glutinous wife Rasputia. The only memorable thing from the movie is Eddie (as the extremely rotund Rasputia) in a skimpy bikini on a water slide. Now I have to think about something else to get that image out of my mind. Eek.


burt lancaster

10. Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity – The events in the world in the 1950s led many in the United States to create a politically and socially conservative time. The Cold War and social mores regarding sex were creating taboos and most of the nation’s people were conforming to almost becoming prudish. The decade was riddled with conservatism and conformity but there were people fighting back. Artists like Jackson Pollock and  Writers like J.D. Salinger, William S. Burroughs, or Ray Bradbury (one of my favorite authors) were pushing the envelope on the literary front. The launch of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine was pushing limits but received extreme backlash. The Academy award winning 1953 romantic drama may be demure by today’s standards but the 64 year old movie pushed the bounds of sexual tension with a now infamous scene between a swimsuit clad Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rocking a ‘small for that time period’ bathing suit. The famous ‘kiss scene’ paired with their controversial attire launched this to become of the most famous ‘sex scenes’ in film history.


 

borat

9. Sasha Baron Cohen as Borat from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (more commonly known as Borat) – The man of many faces, Sasha Baron Cohen, created Borat during his tenure on his show: Da Ali G Show. Borat’s title character, Sagdiyev (played by Cohen), from the “Greatest Country in the World is coincidentally in love with the number 4 selection in our countdown. The mockumentary was full of over-the-top, distasteful moments; but none were quite as memorable as Borat’s swimsuit. It truly is an image that you want to get out of your head as quick as possible.


8. Bo Derek in “10” – Besides playing the swindling new ‘hot’ step-mom of Chris Farley in 1995’s classic comedy Tommy Boy; Bo Derek is known for the ‘run on the beach scene’ from her 1979 Movie “10” starring comedy legend Dudley Moore. You may not have seen the borderline creepy, romantic comedy…you’d more than likely remember her braided hair and swimsuit running down the Mexican beach.


elvis surfing

7. Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii – You can call him The King, The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis the Pelvis, but now-a-days ‘controversial’ is the last thing that you would call Elvis. Just put yourself in the conservative landscape of the 1950s and 1960s, then you will realize just how controversial that Elvis and the sex symbol’s thrusting pelvis would have been. In that conservative landscape having someone who was already a sex symbol don nothing but a swimsuit in a romantic comedy set in Hawaii was asking for women ‘all shook up’ in the theaters; hoping to catch a glimpse of Elvis’s side burns, his bare chest and his abs.


Beach_Party_Annette_Funicello_Frankie_Avalon_Mid-1960s

6. Annette Funicello in Beach Party – Britney Spears wasn’t the first Mouseketeer to steer away from the pearly smiles of their former Disney days. Annette Funicello, out of respect, covered her belly because of demands from Walt Disney. Though her naval saw the light of day during two of the what seemed like endless sequels to Beach Party (Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach); the controversy surrounding Disney’s beloved Mouseketeer’s swimsuits are definitely part of history.


baile-de-salma-hayek

5. Salma Hayek in From Dusk Till Dawn – Imagine a movie that combined Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, vampires, and a bikini clad Salma Hayek. That’s what we received in 1996. The movie centered around a two brothers on the run after a bank robbery; and the brothers kidnap a preacher and his kids and force them to take them to Mexico. Well they chose the wrong place to hole up in because they decided to go to a topless bar which just so happened to house a brood of vampires. The head vampire, Hayek, seduces the crowd in a tiny bikini and a large snake draped around her neck.


pamela anderson.jpg

4. Pamela Anderson from Baywatch – “Some people stand in the darkness, afraid to step into the light. Some people need to help somebody, when the edge of surrenders in sight.” Yes I know the theme song by heart. Yes it may be sad, but just like every heterosexual male in the 90s…I was in love with Pamela Anderson. It would seem that Pamela Anderson and that red one-piece swimsuit are mostly one synonymous image.


3. Halle Berry, Ursala Andress, and Daniel Craig from the James Bond franchise – There is nothing more dramatic and sensual in movies than seeing a completely drenched, gorgeous actor coming out of the water, through the waves, and onto the beach. This scene has become somewhat of a running theme in James Bond movies; most notably: Dr. No, Die Another Day and Casino Royale. Dr. No (the first James Bond movie) not only set the tone for all future James Bond movies, but Ursala Andress’s white bikini set a beauty precedent for all future ‘Bond girls’, like Die Another Day‘s Halle Berry. James Bond himself had a moment but it came as an accident. While filming Casino Royale, Daniel Craig was planned to swim up to the shore but as he was swimming up he came upon a sandbar and was forced to stand. The end result was a PR blessing and the images of the new, muscular James Bond in his tiny swimming trunks became THE image to use in advertising the movie.


phoebe ftrh

2. Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High – In the late 1970s and well into the 1980s; sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll seemed to be as American as baseball and apple pie. Many movie writers and movie producers popularized on this ‘party mentality’ with movies like Animal House, Back to School, and of course Fast Times at Ridgemont High. As for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the movie has become synonymous with two things: Sean Penn’s burnout surfer “Jeff Spicoli” and the image of Phoebe Cates rising up from a pool in a skimpy bikini. The memorable scene is listed by many as one of the sexiest moments in movie history and is most definitely deserving of such a title.


  1. Carrie Fisher in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – The late Carrie Fisher was far from a sex symbol, but her metal and leather bikini (more commonly known as the ‘Slave Leia’ outfit) has become a thing of legend. Despite feminists having a field day over George Lucas’s over sexualization of the scene; many women argue that the disgust of Princess Leia in her position and her quite literally killing her captor with the chains that bound her. Many pop culture outlets, cosplayers and fanboys alike have kept the controversial outfit relevant while fueling its cultural and sensual impact.

slave leia choe

*Note that my list was formulated to showcase the cultural impact of these images and not to express the ‘sexualization’ of a movie/TV character. If you agree with my list, give us a like. If you disagree with my list, who did I miss or whom would you have chosen?


Images:
Featured Image: Marilyn Monroe image by and attributed to George Barris, http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/inspiremehappy2/10017am6.jpg, public Domain.
Eddie Murphy as Rasputia in Norbit accredited to Paramount Pictures, fair use. 
Burt Lancaster “From Here to Eternity” beach image accredited to Columbia Pictures, fair use.
Borat image accredited to Sacha Baron Cohen and 20th Century Fox, fair use.
Bo Derek in “10” accredited to Orion Pictures, fair use.
Elvis Presley surfing in Blue Hawaii image accredited to Paramount Pictures, fair use.
Annette Funicello from Beach Party image accredited to American International Pictures, fair use.
Salma Hayek with snake in From Dusk till Dawn image accredited to Miramax Films, fair use.
Pamela Anderson in Baywatch image accredited to NBC studios, fair use.
James Bond beach images accredited to Ian Fleming and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures, fair use.
Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High image accredited to Universal Pictures, fair use.
Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi Slave Leia images accredited to Lucasfilm Ltd., 20th Century Fox, and/or Disney; fair use.
Christy Marie as Slave Leia image by and accredited to Jason Scragz from Portland, Oregon, USAderivative work: Fanfwah (talk) – Christy_Marie_as_Slave_Leia_at_San_Diego_Comic-Con_2006.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7167437

I knew it was only a matter of “Time”

640px-LBCC_2013_-_Smokey_&_The_Bandit_Trans_Am_(11028188806)

600px-SDCC_2014_-_Masters_of_the_Universe_(7752978172)Sometimes the only thing it takes is just time for all of the things that you dreamed of getting as a child, to be available to you when you are older. Unless you dreamed of owning a dragon or wanted to become a super hero, then you can pretty much fulfill your childhood dreams. GI Joe fans can join the Marines. Masters of the Universe fanatics can purchase He-Man’s power sword or Star Trek’s Trekkies can learn Klyngon while wielding the infamous Bat’leth. We can cosplay as Deadpool all day long while visiting our favorite Con. If we have the money can rock a mustache and black cowboy hat while driving 100 MPH in a black 1977 Smokey and the Bandit style Pontiac Firebird or sit back playing an Atari in a 1986 KITT Pontiac Trans Am. Carpentry ready fans can build a TARDIS in their backyard. Or those of us with a big imagination can travel back in time after they hit 88 MPH in their own Delorean. Is it exactly the same as we dreamed? Definitely not. But things usually are different than they seemed when we were little. Reality usually sits in but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun a little!

Rusty-s_TV_and_Movie_Car_Museum_Jackson_TN_033

For those of us born in the 80s, the realization of fulfilling our dreams is a little bit closer thanks to O’Reilly Auto Parts. Well….kind of. Anyways, go to the O’Reilly Auto Part’s website and search for Part #121G. Trust me!!! You won’t be upset that you did.

640px-DMC_Delorean_(5102713156)

 


Featured Image: He-Man is a TimeLord image by Chris Favero from USA – He-Man is a TimeLord?, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34364586
Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am image by and accredited to Pat Loika – LBCC-1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42451758
He-Man, She-Ra and Teela cosplay image by and accredited to Ryan Quick from Greenbelt, MD, USA – Masters of the Universe, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42384853
Knight Rider KITT car image by and accredited to Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19551841
Delorean image by and accredited to Spanish Coches – DMC Delorean, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38114628