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X-Men: Hero'S That Reinforce Stereotypes

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X-men: Hero's that reinforce stereotypes

Racism no longer exists, but a new prejudice against gifted people has risen. No longer is one judged by their skin color or social class, but by the fact that one can project lasers from one's eyes or manipulate the forces of magnetism. In 1963, Marvel Comics released its first issue of a series entitled "The Uncanny X-men". The comic book series deals with the typical theme of good versus evil, but emphasizes mostly on the struggle of race. The X-men are a team of super heroes that were born with special abilities. These gifted people are not considered as a part of the human race, but are classified as mutants. Societal issues such as racism, sexism, and social class are no longer the main problems of the world; the dilemma is now purely humans hating mutants. Although the denotation of the X-men are gifted individuals who fight for justice, acceptance, and yearn to live at peace with mankind it reinforces stereotypes in our own society. The comic book series contains connotations of gender, sex, stereotypical ideologies and archetypes that are detrimental to a young reader.

The core audience of X-men readers is young men between the ages of six and seventeen years of age. During these crucial years of learning and discovery, the ideologies of the youths are easily influenced by the things they see and read. The opinions and views formed by these youths are highly subjective to mediums of information such as television, magazines, books, or in this case, comic books. Comic book characters from the X-men are extremely influential because they serve as role models for both genders and give them a standard of social normality.

One thing the male X-men have in common is that they are all in peak physical condition. None of the men are over weight or flabby, each one of them is toned and has massive, defined muscles. Even Professor Xavier, who is over the age of fifty and confined to a wheel chair, has the body of a twenty five year old Olympic wrestler. All of the male members also have chiseled good looks, except for The Beast who is covered in blue fur. This archetype of masculinity being presented to the young boys give them the impression that, in order to be a hero, role model or somebody important, one must be muscular and good looking.

The disfigured, "ugly", and overweight characters are depicted as villains who are angry, vengeful, and consumed by evil desires. This connotes that a person is bad if they fit the physical description of a villain. As a result, a group of athletic kids picking on an overweight child at school parallels the heroic X-men fighting The Blob, an immensely fat villain. Not bullying him because he is necessarily evil, but because he does not fit the archetype of a "good guy".

A contradictory aspect of masculinity presented by the X-men is their super hero attire. These hero's wear flamboyant yellow and blue spandex tights with awkward boots, belts and straps to match. Society's view of gender normality tells these children that flamboyant colors and tight clothes are for girls and homosexuals, yet when the X-men wear them; their actions are not questioned or seen as gender inappropriate. However, if one were to wear such an outfit in public, society would immediately pass judgment or label them as metro-sexual.

Stereotypes of women being emotionally unstable and inferior to men are also present in the X-men comic books. No matter how beautiful, strong, or intelligent a female character is, they all have a weakness related to their childhood memories, insecurity, or emotional scar from a loved one. The character Jean Grey has the ability to control a persons mind and move objects with a single thought. However, she is always unsure of herself and is always overwhelmed by her worries and sensitivity of others. This tells the reader that a woman may have a greater ability than a man, but she is inevitably weaker due to her unstable emotions.

I cannot recall a single unattractive heroine or villainess from the X-men comics. The female characters all have an ideally beautiful face and body. Their pretty faces are accentuated by their flawless hairstyles that seem to stay in perfect shape, even after a disastrous battle. The female villains may have one eye, a scaled face, or knives for hands, but they all have a swimsuit models body. This tells male readers that all women must at least have a sexy body if they are to be acknowledged as somebody worthy of praise. Unfortunately, this tells female readers that one can only be confident, powerful, and important if they have a pretty face, an attractive body or wear skin tight outfits.

The X-men comic series not only projects the opposite sex's ideal physical appearance, but also influences the aspect of heterosexual relationships. Out of the many different characters, there are two main heroes that are always involved in some relationship with the opposite sex. The characters Cyclops and Gambit depict two models of the "ideal boyfriend". Cyclops is not only the leader of the X-men, but is the only one with a steady girlfriend, Jean Grey (the female leader). Cyclops is depicted as dependable, responsible, dresses like a preppy model from an Abercrombie and Fitch ad, and comes from an upper middle class background. On the other hand, Gambit is mysterious, has an accent, questions authority, smokes cigarettes, and embodies your typical bad boy image. Gambit is basically James Dean with mutant powers and a Cajun accent. These two characters imply the notion that if you want girls to like you, you must be one or the other, either the financially stable and dependable good guy or the mysterious "rebel without a cause" type. Of course, according to the comics and society, these characteristics must still be followed up by good looks as



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