Apparently today's superhero role models just don't measure up to the ones of yesteryear. According to a psychology professor, boys exposed to superhero stories are learning that men "exploit women" and don't have "the virtue of doing good for humanity."

The BBC explains:

Professor Sharon Lamb surveyed 674 boys aged four to 18 to find out what they read and watched on TV and in films. With her team at the University of Massachusetts, she then analysed the types of male role models the boys were exposed to. It showed two main types of man - the aggressive superhero or the slacker who does not even try.

"There is a big difference in the movie superhero of today and the comic book superhero of yesterday," said Professor Lamb. "Today's superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he's aggressive, sarcastic and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity. When not in superhero costume, these men exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns."

Boys could look up to and learn from comic book heroes of the past because outside of their costumes, they were "real people with real problems and many vulnerabilities".

She said the other option for boys was to be a slacker. "Slackers are funny, but slackers are not what boys should strive to be; slackers don't like school and they shirk responsibility. We wonder if the messages boys get about saving face through glorified slacking could be affecting their performance in school."

I love the idea that somebody surveyed boys on their pop culture habits, and then tried to to boil the diversity of those boys' tastes down to two types of male role model. A few things that Lamb didn't consider in her study: That boys don't view fictional characters as role models; That boys interpret the fiction they consume in a wide variety of ways; That boys lie about their pop culture habits; That boys learn about how men act from the real world, which is full of actually existing violent people; That boys look up to women as role models too; That she is misinterpreting the messages in the pop culture she writes about, particularly the difference between today's superheroes and those of yesteryear. Did I leave anything out?

via BBC News