How can pop culture teach social justice to the next generation?

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Overview: 

Many Americans today are familiar with widespread blockbusters such as The Avengers, Superman, the Harry Potter movies, and other widely recognized Hollywood films. Being a few examples of mainstream icons, the concept of popular culture can be defined as modern culture transmitted via mass media and often aimed particularly at young people (Zehr, 2014). Given its prevalence, pop culture is a channel of social justice education that has great potential to educate our current generation. Especially because children, adolescents and emerging adults are heavily exposed to these varieties of popular entertainment, pop culture can inadvertently shape and inform an individual’s core and peripheral beliefs about their society (Linker, 2014). Because it is so prominent in an increasingly millennial world, these forms of media can also be used in the classroom as a teaching tool to help young people better relate to concepts about social justice, diversity, and inclusion. The following article is an adaptation of a final paper I wrote for a social work course this past semester.  Continue reading →

Captain America: A Case Study in Veteran Mental Health

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Character Overview: 

Analyzing superhero Captain America, who wakes up 70 years past his time after crash-landing on a war mission, Steve Rogers’ mental health struggles to rediscover his place in society can arguably relate in numerous ways to military veterans across the country today, and their potential experiences returning from service.

Steve Rogers is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s heroic protagonist from Brooklyn during World War II. In Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Steve attempts to enlist in the U.S. military multiple times, consistently rejected because of his health problems and frail physique. These attempts catch the attention of an American organization, the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), who work to bring down the Nazi science division named HYDRA. Because of Steve’s morality and inner strength, he is selected for a top-secret Super Soldier program developed by Dr. Abraham Erskine and Howard Stark (The First Avenger, 2011). After gaining superhuman strength through the transformation, Steve becomes a war mascot, an American icon, and a key member in the fight against HYDRA. Known nationally as Captain America, Steve frees captured Allied POW’s and actively fights HYDRA in a variety of attacks (The First Avenger, 2011). Steve ultimately crashes into the Arctic during his final mission with the SSR in 1945, becoming frozen in ice and preserved for 70 years. He subsequently awakens as not only a surviving war veteran, but also as a soldier very much out of his time. This case study will analyze Steve’s recovery process throughout The Avengers (2012) and The Winter Soldier (2014), and speculate on the importance of recognizing similar struggles in military veterans today.  Continue reading →

What can Marvel’s Loki teach us about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

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Character Overview:

Loki is the God of Mischief, adopted brother of Thor, and grows up as a prince of Asgard despite actually being a Frost Giant. As presumable through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki is a troubled character who has had a difficult childhood, a lack of self identity, and a divorce from his birth culture. He is also a widely popular antagonist because of the underlying sense of goodness in him, despite his consistent tendencies of betraying those who trust him and being characteristically spontaneous. This case study will look into the psychological background behind Loki’s behaviors, and explore how his actions and tendencies affect maintaining healthy relationships and living a typical lifestyle.  Continue reading →