Holy Role Models, Batman!

The topic of “Fictional 1980s Male Role Models” for the “Guys Only” episode of 1980s Now, suggested by loyal listener Brad, was chosen because I, a female, couldn’t be present for that particular recording date. Firstly, let it be known that I’m so glad for the way the episode turned out and for the depth and direction their discussion was able to take *because* I was not there. Secondly, at one point Will accurately noted that I’d likely have some thoughts on the subject, and so I felt inspired to tackle the topic here.

Whilst I could wax on about the influence upon me by male family members from my childhood and adolescence— and rest assured, that could be entertaining, as so many of the stories about my father involve a narrow escape from a night in jail or some other harrowing fate— I will focus my attention on three male fictional influences who very possibly helped steer me away from a lifetime of reckless disregard for the law.

My earliest memories of feeling something resembling respect or admiration for a male character in any form of media involve Batman and Robin, from the TV series created in the 1960s and starring Adam West and Burt Ward. I was only five years old watching the re-runs in the mid-seventies, and I recall enjoying the cartoonish presentation of the show (“Biff! POW! Bam!”) and the colorful eccentric villains, but I also very specifically understood that the heroes were there as role models to whom I should be looking up. It probably didn’t hurt that Robin was likely my earliest fictional crush, but I feel very sure that my sense of right and wrong was steadily informed by the persistent and clever crime-fighting of the Dynamic Duo.

My sense of justice was undoubtedly further developed when I was seven years old (and beyond!), enthralled by the soaring sights and sounds of the 1978 and 1980 Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. I simply could not get enough of these movies for so many reasons (including but not limited to: the score, the heart-wrenching drama, the humor, the edge-of-my-seat action!), but front and center was the selfless integrity and fierce justice exuded by both Clark Kent and Superman. As a child I was always seeking safety, and Superman provided that in spades for my psyche. I suppose at times I might have wished to be Lois Lane, but I mainly found myself riveted with admiration for the actions of the Superman character.

I’m no superhero, but I’d like to think that I carry within me perhaps a *fraction* of the integrity that I imagined these characters had, and that it informs my interactions with friends and strangers alike. Up, up, and away!

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