A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mom Up in Arms Over Innuendo in Spider-Man Trade

A Nebraska mom thinks a Spider-Man trade paperback is marketing more than good guys vs. bad guys to her six-year-old. Of course, she doesn't mention details, and she apparently missed that Marvel, the company publishing the book, has rated it as appropriate for teens.

Good to see that censorship-related activity continues to be so predictable, because that makes it easier to handle. Of course, this isn't a case of schools or teachers vs. parents, just one mom getting more media coverage than she probably needed.

ICV2's reporting on this story can be found here. I'm still deciding on whether or not to write the school district. Typically, I try to send a little something....

UPDATE: Here's a copy of my letter to the superintendent of this school district.

Hi. I am James Bucky Carter, an assistant professor of English Education who focuses on comics-and-literacy-related issues.

I have recently read about the concerns over Spider-Man: Revelations. I own the individual issues which comprise the book and have revisited them this morning. I strongly urge you to keep the book in the library system of your public schools.

The first story in the book is Marvel's tribute to 9/11. It is a stirring tale with much emotion, as in Marvel's fictional universe, almost all heroes are set in NYC, and in reality, so are Marvel's offices. The text is as much meta-text as it is fiction, because those who write fantasy, and the heroes and villains they create, must come to terms with an event so horrific, it was once something thought only possible in comic books.

The next two stories deal with many social and family issues, such as identity, trust, forgiveness, and drug addiction. These are also two stories written during the time that Peter Parker was employed as a teacher. Surely the character study potential in these stories is great: Why would the man obsessed with the phrase "with great power comes great responsibility" be moved to teach?

The final issue does feature Mary Jane in appropriate clothing for what she is doing. She's in a nightgown while sleeping, a towel after bathing, and a bathing suite at a model shoot. But, the story is more about a complex relationship between two people who love each other in mature (as in complex but responsible ways) than it is about sex. This is also the "silent" issue, the comic where few words were used to tell the story. Teachers and/or students can learn much about composition by comparing the silent issues with those with word balloons or even by comparing the script at the back of the book with the art on this final issue of the graphic novel.

Again, I urge you to retain the book in your library system in one site or another. The book is best suited for those in middle school and beyond, so allowing those students the best access to it might be advisable.

As well, I am available to discuss comics-and-pedagogy-related material via e-mail, telephone, or through visits. I am associated with the NCTE Co-Sponsored Speaker program and have talked with public school teachers on comics in the classroom across the country.

James Bucky Carter
my e-mail
my phone number

1 comment:

Bucky C. said...

Here's how a representative of the district replied:

"Thanks for your concern and explanation. We have a time tested process for
books challenged by the public and that process is now underway."

Yep, that's it.