Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Action Heroes: My View

My first action heroes were Superman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, and Samantha, the Good Witch cum housewife on sixties series Bewitched.

Found at various times across my early childhood courtesy of television in the U.S., my interest in each waned with each ending visit to stateside relatives or friends as I returned to the small Latin American country in which I was raised and resumed watching Spanish telenovelas as well as old English language movies from the thirties, forties and fifties that constituted most of my television adventures at the time.

That these action or super heroes neither resembled me nor reflected much in my daily life did not become a matter of conscious concern to me until my first year of undergraduate college when I took a course in feminist media (actually the lack thereof at that point) and de-constructed the messages each was sending and the cultural representations each stood for. Of the bunch, Wonder Woman appeared the most feminist for the time, although given her sexpot garb and tendency to flirt, that wasn't saying a lot.

There were no intelligent and powerful female action heroes, just as there were none living with any sort of disability and none of colour. Having long ago abandoned any hope that present-day television would reflect anything other than the needs of its advertisers, I no longer watch much.

In an ideal world, whom would I consider a proper Action Hero?

Persons of colour, women, those living with disabilities, those representing the wide spectrum of sexuality, religion, compassion, the arts, medical and community expertise. These varied individuals and collectives would share the desire and fortitude to confront and surmount prejudice and supplant hatred or ignorance with thriving communities, positive relationships, creative and business endeavours and other noteworthy activities, as many have done, and continue to do, often against great odds.

In an ideal world, doctors, friends, associates and even one's intimates would cease to suffer from or create abject ableism, further stereotypes or lack awareness of history, culture, sport, music or other elements of life. There would be no concept of "Minority" because any differences would be openly and positively celebrated.

One's medical differences, for example, would not engender pity, or a social mileau in which they were made to feel de-humanized and nothing more than a collection of symptoms. Persons living differently-abled lives could work, play and navigate both public and private spheres without fear, have equal access to buildings, goods, services and transport, attend community and political events with adequate space, seating and access and achieve economic stability in the marketplace.

My Action Hero would be a person of both soul and heart, razor-sharp wit, and gentle demeanor towards children, the aged, animals and his or her companions, with ire reserved for only situations or people undermining another's rights, place or humanity.

Do I know people fitting this description??? You bet I do, and many of them are friends and associates in real life, as well as a host of bloggers I am proud to be counted amongst.

Thank you all and may none of us lose hope or the will to make the world a better place.

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