Monday, April 19, 2010


The actors who play the role of Superman are often conflated with the character. They are him, to the public. This has been especially relevant since Christopher Reeve's paralyzing accident. Celebrities often offer themselves as examples and models for dealing with any sort of hardship. When Reeve became quadripilegic, his role as Superman became important. He persevered and refused to give up hope that his condition could be cured.

I had a conversation with Jeff Ray, an IU student who works at the Wells Library. He noticed that I was checking out a book about Superman, and we started talking. He told me about his brother's condition, confining him to a wheelchair, and how they loved Superman. Knowing of Reeve's condition added a level of meaning to the character and made him all the more important to them.

Tracy Todd also identifies with Superman because of her condition as a quadriplegic. She recently wrote about her connection with the figure via Christopher Reeve in a blog entry.

With time, I managed to rebuild a new life in a new body. With the help of family, friends and my community I think I can safely say that I have managed to carve out a new, meaningful existence. When things get tough, I think of my Superman – his courageous and positive spirit carries me through the challenges of everyday life. And for that, I am thankful.

That's a great passage. Life is pretty hard, even if you're not dealing with physical difficulties. We use whatever we can find to get through it. I read again and again that superhero stories are only for immature boys, for people who don't want to grow up, that they're adolsecent power fantasies. People who say that are wrong. Tracy Todd, Jeff Ray, and a host of others who live with any sort of difficulty are proof of that. Todd ends with a great line:

Do you have a superhero carrying you through life?

I've been thinking a lot about what rold heroes (and superheroes) play in the world. Todd's blog post seems a perfect summary of the good that they can do for us.

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