Sunday, September 1, 2013

Long Gone are the Days of Superheroes

From the moment I heard they were making the movie 42, I knew I had to go see it. It was about subject matters very near and dear to my heart; Civil rights, politics, Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers and my hometown Brooklyn. I had grand plans to wear my number 42 Brooklyn Dodgers jersey to the theater.  Well suffice it to say that when it came and went, I was severely disappointed in myself that I had missed it. It just seemed that there was always something or the other preventing me from supporting this movie at the box office.

Last night I rented the DVD and watched it for the 1st time. It by far exceeded anything I had imagined, but this is not a movie review blog nor is this a review of a DVD. This is about the social significance of the subject matter in this movie. One in particular that maybe even the producers of the film had not intended.

There is a scene early on in the movie where Jackie Robinson tosses a ball to a young boy at a train station. At the end of the movie we learn that this boy grows up to be a World Series winning player on the 1969 "Amazin Mets". That is when it hits me. That is what is so terribly wrong with America today but even more specifically Black America. It really hit me hard why today's youth are so lost. There are no more heroes. When I was a kid I had Jim Brown, Arthur Ashe, Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Paul Roberson, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King jr., OJ Simpson, Dr. jay, Wilt Chamberlain, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis... Sure, many of these guys were superficial sports athletes, but most of them were stand up men and many of them were civil rights heroes, leaders and fighters. They all stood for something. Something greater than themselves. They were a beacon for us to shoot for, not only on the field but especially off the field. They gave back to the community in a real tangible way by fighting the fight many of us could not in the public eye. They made a young black boy feel like there was something worth struggling for. Like there was more to life than just myself. That we were all in this together.

Today's kids don't have that. Even if in reality, all the people I mentioned were actually only out for themselves... They never let on to that. Today's stars are selfish beyond imagination. All they care about is their own materialism, perpetuating negative stereotypes, self-indulgence and exploitation. I can't imaging growing up to be the solid man I became with the current crop of role models these kids have. Drug addicts getting arrested left and right, and not for things like my heroes were arrested for, like fighting for our rights.

Young people, need people to look up to especially with nearly half our young men growing up in a fatherless household. Where is it going to come from? The media of course, and it seems like there is a concerted effort to taint that well with poison.

Media outlets used to protect their assets, worry about their images, keep them on the straight and narrow (or at least give the appearance of it)... No more. They almost go out of their way to let their talent get arrested and encourage them to run amok. Bar brawls, shootouts, rape charges, drug possession charges. Is it any wonder the youth have run astray? Where is that image of what a man should be? Where is that man that men want to emulate? Where is that positive man that women admire and want to have in their lives? These men were not just important to me as a boy, but to girls as well though for very different reasons. Women wanted to be better women so they could be with men like them. These men raised the bar for all of us in the black community and gave us something to strive for. That bar now rests securely in the gutter. 

That is why black America embraced Obama the way we did, not because he was black... But because he was emblematic of what we could become. He was that superhero we had been missing for a few decades. He gave us hope that we thought was long gone and irretrievable. He became our Superman and the media and the political powers that be have done everything in their power to tear him down. Some deserving, but much of it not.

In my day There may not have been many Superheroes movies, but real life Superheroes dominated the media. Today there are more Superhero movies than you can shake a stick at, but Super-villains rule the media. 

Long Gone are the Days of Superheroes.


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