Thursday, December 01, 2016

A Personal Thank You to the CW.

Labels are bad. All of my life I have resisted the tendency prevalent in our society to judge or define a person by race, gender, sexual preference, weight, or other such narrow criteria. Maybe it's because I am, "that crippled man." Oh, no one calls me this aloud. But, this judgment does exist. It is assumed (and often rightly so) that I am unable to do certain things. But, right or wrong, prejudging my capabilities based on the label that society has given me robs me of my power.

Growing up, I loved reading comic books. I still do. The thing about comics is that often the heroes in the stories lead double lives. There is a juxtaposition between the seemingly helpless secret identity and the ultra-powerful hero identity. People judge each side based on appearance: one is seen as incapable and the other is seen as infallible. But these two sides are the same person. The lesson here is that appearances are deceiving. There is more to a person than what you can see.

Comics showed us that the book worm who was bullied in gym class was also the hero praised on the evening news. Comics showed us aliens from other worlds who just wanted to fit in and get the attention of the cute person next to them, even as we were feeling alien in our own skins and suffering from the same personal crisis.

Comics, at least the ones that I read as a kid, had so much to teach us about transcending the labels placed on us by society and living together (all together) as heroes. And it's how I have tried to live my life. And it's a message that I think is especially important to remember today, as I think about our broken world.

Of course, kids don't read comics so much anymore. It's all video games now, and I don't get that video games are shaping children the same way that comics did for me. In fact, from what I have heard and seen in video game chat communities, the opposite is happening. I miss the comics. Our world needs these positive heroic ideas.

Thankfully, these stories aren't gone. If someone had told the kid that I was reading comic books back in 1977 that he would be watching his favorite superhero stories on the television screen four nights a week, I am certain that he would not have been able to believe it. But, it's really happening. The stories on the CW television line-up are the comics of my youth. They carry the same positive messages of right and wrong and heroism, of inclusion and acceptance, of ignoring labels and judging on merit.

Right now Supergirl is sharing the most intelligent, engaging, heartwarming, and non-judgemental, treatment of a homosexual relationship that I have ever seen on television. It's this very real story line that makes Supergirl my most anticipated show each week. Sure, I am a comic book nerd and the fantastic spectacle of super heroes, powers, and villains reaches that boy inside, but it's the other stuff that reaches the man.

I am watching this show with my daughter. She gets it. She understands that people aren't to be judged by any preconceived notion or measure. That people are to be experienced, and their value gauged solely on the breadth of that experience. I am proud of her for that. And, I am proud of and thankful to the CW for giving us these amazingly thoughtful and important stories. Especially now when our world needs them the most.