Our childhood games involved imaginative scripts with roles as the Bionic Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Batman and Robin, Steve Austin, Wonder Woman, and scores of nefarious criminals that were always beat down by dinner time. I think of us as the latch-key, TV generation. While The Brady Bunch clued us in to how “normal” families behaved and how abnormal our own families were by their standards, our super heroes not only survived the mechanizations of evil, but triumphed within one hour. It wasn’t like we could play Brady Bunch; how boring that would have been. I faced badness and damaged people in real life and pretending to be Wonder Woman for a few hours was an escape that culminated with the fineness of justice. And her plane was invisible so all I needed were bracelets and a rope to use as a lasso. I hated it when the guys played the superhero role because then I got to play a victim of a bad guy, usually tied up. But, misogynistic tendencies of young boys are a topic for another post, possibly even another blog.
We have been termed “Generation X”, the cynical generation. My daughter says she finds my generation to be the angry generation. Well, the rules have changed in our lifetime and TV characters in prime-time are now all flawed. Our super hero-complex is described perfectly in Jeff Gordinier’s X Saves the World. The line between good and evil is not only fuzzy, but moves depending on the situation. Wonder Woman may have snapped a villain’s neck here and there, but their crimes always justified it and I was confident of her inherent goodness. Today’s heroes quickly become anti-heroes, both in real life and on TV. There is no shortage of villains, however. Can the sexed-up versions of the Angels and Wonder Woman empower little girls the way they did me, or will they parody the half-wins that we call justice today? And how boring would it be for a kid to play act beating up a crooked hedge-fund manager?