Term Paper: Superheroes Ruba Superhero Shows

Pages: 10 (2655 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] While Batman's story is fictional, his character is also portrayed as human, and thus, his character can b applied in real life because of his all-too human qualities and character.

Spiderman, as Peter Parker, was not bestowed with the wealth and fortune that Bruce Wayne had; however, he possesses an extraordinary ability of immense strength and agility because of the effect of the radioactive spider bite that he accidentally had when he was still a teenager. Peter Parker's character as Spiderman is not simple, since he possesses six (6) extraordinary abilities: Spider-agility, Spider-leap, Spider-sense, Spider-strength, Wall-crawling, and Web-slinging. These extraordinary and superhuman abilities enable him to fight crime in New York, and with the help of his Spiderman costume, Peter Parker was able to conceal his identity as the protector of the streets of New York from all types of criminals, starting from burglars up until to his great nemesis, which include the Green Goblin, Dr. Doom, and Dr. Octopus. These villains are also humans who possessed superhuman characteristics and powers as a result of scientific and technological experimentation, which puts these villains in equal footing with Spiderman, who unwittingly becomes a superhero because of the strange accident that he had in his early adolescent years.

She-Ra's character, meanwhile, is unlike Batman and Spiderman's case, since she was already born possessing the superhuman powers that she and her brother He-Man has been given as they live as protectors of the planet Greyskull. She-Ra's character is portrayed as a woman that has human characteristics and behavior, but put into a different social system and environment. Nevertheless, the humane characteristics of She-Ra in her TV series shows that her show and character are for the human audience, and her 'alienism' is only a quality that helps distinguish the She-Ra character from the other cartoon and comic characters existing in the market during the year of her release and creation. She-Ra's physical appearance exudes her sexuality and femininity, and her short skirt is one distinguishing characteristic that illustrates her feminine character despite the role of protector and fighter that she assumes.

Wonder Woman is also portrayed as a sexy woman character because of her costume, which showed wearing only a two-piece costume. However, her costume is only an external facto in looking at her character, because Wonder Woman has powers and attitude towards crime-fighting equal to that of her male friends in the Justice Society. She is also portrayed as the 'human' and sensitive side of the Justice Society, which is an attribute that are commonly found in female comic book characters. The technological advancements of her tools and weapons also shows that Wonder Woman do not only utilize her strength as her weapon for crime-fighting, but she also uses ingenuity in using innovations in her weapons to provide her more protection and aide while fighting her enemies. Examples of these interesting, "ingenuous" weapons are the bulletproof bracelets and magic lasso that she wears and the "Invisible Jet" that she rides on during her crime-fighting operations (Wonder Woman Pages 2003).

Underlying Positive/Negative Messages of Superhero Character to the Audience

One of the essential considerations in the analyses of the superheroes' characters in this paper is to answer the question of whether they extend a positive or negative message to the receivers or audiences of their comic book and TV show stories. An important topic usually discussed in researches on reception studies of comic book characters is whether they contribute to the desensitization process of children (the primary audience of these superhero characters) to violence. As for the female superhero characters, one issue that is commonly addressed is their portrayal as secondary and minor characters as compared to their male counterparts.

In addressing the first issue, that is, the issue of desensitization in violence of children, studies conducted on media reception of children showed that children do have the tendency to be immersed in the seemingly fantasy-escapist-type of fiction that comic book stories and characters show on TV. According to Hilde Mosse in his study entitled, "Aggression and Violence in Fantasy and Fact," children do incorporate the stories that they see and read on TV and comics (respectively) and imagine the violent scenes in what they hear and see in their imaginations and as part of their real life. Using Sigmund Freud's theory on Psychoanalysis, Mosse states that: "When asked about comic books, the children without exception state that they select one picture, look at it for a long time, and "imagine that it is real" (Wertham 1948). While these findings do show that violence as a result of exposure to TV shows and comic books depicting violence can be influential and harmful to audiences, especially children, a more important study, called media literacy, aims to redirect the negative messages and impact that children receive into positive ones. In media literacy, children are taught on the positive values and aspects of superhero characters on TV and comic books, which will "enable... students to be productive participants in our society, part of that responsibility entails the ability to look at what is, what could be, and to devise and implement plans for personal and social change. Our superheroes provide an excellent backdrop for this type of exploration" (AMLA 2003).

The issue of gender stratification of women in superhero characterization is illustrated in the roles they are relegated in, costumes that they wear (sexually suggestive), and the 'un-Earthly' characters of female superhero characters, that is, She-Ra and Wonder Woman are portrayed not as human beings with superhuman powers, but as aliens of the Earth helping out other superhero characters. This suggests that the female superheroes' 'alien' character shows hoe their characters of women strength and power is not a norm and cannot be found in human society. Thus, the concept of alienism is provided to suggest that the women superheroes that the audience see is not a product of human society, but of other planets, suggesting that women cannot have these attributes and power on Earth, unlike the other male superhero characters in TV shows and comic books.


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