Outlawing superheroes is an idea used in everything from The Incredibles to Marvel’s commentary on the PATRIOT Act to anything with Lex Luthor in it. But one pre-school has proved life imitates art by banning superheroes from school. You can read about it on The Mary Sue here:
Apparently kids get rowdy and sometimes harm one another. This is definitely something that adults should address, however, instead of teaching kids that harming one another is wrong, the school has decided to ban all superheroes and superhero games. Because why address the situation as adults and teach children boundaries that will benefit them in life when you can send home a creepy notice decrying them as “too imaginative”?
Yes, in a time when child psychologists are concerned that rigidly scheduled activities and smart phones serving as babysitters are leading to less creativity and creative skills, the common issue of rowdy kids is being blamed on imagination. Nevermind that there are several studies that show kids who participate in creative extracurriculars such as Destination Imagination and Odyssey of the Mind have better problem solving and critical thinking skills and even do better in the job market than their peers.
Then, of course, there’s the issue of singling out superheroes. No doubt some kids reenacting The Avengers took it a bit far. But the same could happen with kids over-zealously role-playing any action/adventure program. Kids have gotten rowdy playing cowboys and Indians (ah, genocide), cops and robbers (why look up to Superman when you can be a bank robber?), Robin Hood (nothing like homegrown terrorism), Power Rangers, Pokemon, GI Joe, pirates, and innumerable others through the years. Yet somehow my friends and I managed to play Animorphs without shooting each other with dracon beams or beheading one another with our tail blades.
Conflict drives our media. Picking and choosing what to ban doesn’t address anything. It would be far better to establish boundaries for how we treat and touch one another than to draw arbitrary ones around “good” and “bad” genres or franchises. Otherwise children learn only that they have to lie to the teacher about being Batman instead of what is or isn’t appropriate behaviour to imitate. But blaming crime on comics in the fifties worked so well, right? Let’s just do that again.
I am so pleased by the number of comments on The Mary Sue and Twitter calling for parents to rebel and send their kids to school in superhero apparel. I know I would. “Richard Grayson Smith, I understand what the teacher said, but if you don’t stand up against injustice who will? Go get your Nightwing t-shirt this instant. And help your sister tie her Green Arrow shoes.”