This post is a bit lighter than my last one. It was written for the Creative Buzz Hop; this week’s theme is “Superheroes.” If you’d like to join us, write your post and link up at either Pen Paper Pad or Muses from the Deep.
I was a little disappointed to see this week’s theme, superheroes. After all, I’ve never been much of a fan. I don’t think I’ve been to a superhero movie in the theater since Spider-Man 2, and I’m not sure I’ve seen one at home in that long either. Neither of my kids is much into superheroes. So what the heck was I going to write about?
Even though I have some thoughts on comics, superheroes, and geek culture, that didn’t seem appropriate. It’s true that there is a distinct lack of super women, and the women in comics play a wide range of “stand by your man” (even if it means death) roles. I’m put off by the skimpy costumes on the women and the disgustingly large muscles on the men. I could probably write forever about that. On the other hand, there are already some women writing about those things who have more of a vested interest than I do and who can speak to the issues better than I can. I’ll leave them to it. It also occurs to me that lots and lots of people love superheroes for a variety of reasons, and I’m sick of the feeling that we’re all being policed for our choices in books, movies, and television (see my post yesterday on why, sort of).
Where does that leave me? It leaves me with the one “superhero” my daughter actually likes: WordGirl.
Yes, people, I know it’s a PBS kids’ show and it’s meant to be educational. But come on. Who wouldn’t like something that, in the last year, has helped my daughter expand her vocabulary by several hundred percent? Besides, WordGirl has an enemy called Lady Redundant Woman. What’s not to love?
For those not familiar (probably because you don’t have any kids under age 10 in your house), WordGirl is an alien from the planet Lexicon who lives with an Earth family and goes by the name Becky Botsford. She has a sidekick, a monkey named Bob (or Captain Huggy Face, when he’s in full superhero sidekick mode). WordGirl fights villains such as the meat-slinging Butcher, the cheese-obsessed Dr. Two-Brains (his second brain is a mouse’s), and the conniving knitter, Granny May. The whole show is just such campy fun. The best part is that WordGirl is a strong, smart, and capable role model.
The show’s writers have created one of the most likeable characters, appealing to kids of all sorts. The feminist mama in me rejoices that there is a fantastic television girl out there that is relatable for both boys and girls, something sorely lacking in a lot of our culture. At a time when so much of kids’ literature, television, and toys are separated into boy and girl categories, we have a show with a main character that appeals to everyone (even mom and dad).
I know my daughter’s time with WordGirl is limited. It won’t be long before she wants to watch things she perceives as more “grown up.” Maybe someday she’ll be interested in more mainstream superheroes; maybe she won’t. Maybe the culture will have changed enough that we’ll see more and better options regarding women in superhero comics and movies; maybe it won’t. For now, she and I can enjoy watching Word Girl and learning something new–and hoping that once again, WordGirl will protect Fair City from the likes of Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy.
For the very curious, you can see what I’m talking about: