Culture Express –What's your superpower?
D: Hello, and welcome to today’s Culture Express. I’m Dionysus.
S: And I’m Sherry. So Dionysus, the subject of today's show is superheroes! Who's your favourite?
D: Spiderman. He's cool and funny – and he can spin webs and jump off skyscrapers!
S: Well, my favourite superhero is Ms Marvel.
D: I've never heard of her – and I’m a bit on an expert on comic book superheroes.
S: Well, a growing number of people from ethnic backgrounds are getting bored of all these white male superheroes they can’t relate to. And they're hungry for characters a little closer to home – or relevant to their own lives.
D: So what's Ms Marvel's super power?
S: She's a shape shifter – which means she can change shape and become anything she wants. But she's also just Kamala Khan, an average teenager from New Jersey, who happens to be Asian and a Muslim.
D: It sounds good. Now, I have another question. What are the rules for achieving superhero status? Superman is an alien, Ms Marvel has alien genes, and Spiderman and the Hulk are both contaminated – or poisoned – by radioactive substances that change their DNA.
S: What about Batman and Iron Man? They're just ordinary guys with a lot of money who use technology to create superpowers for themselves.
D: Good point. There don't seem to be any hard-and-fast – or clear – rules. But these special powers – whether it's being able to fly, or change shape, or spin webs – they allow the characters to do good in the world. And that’s a big theme across all comic books.
S: That's true. But times have changed, and comic books these days often blur the line between right and wrong – making things unclear. Superheroes don’t always do the right thing and struggle with everyday problems like you and me.
D: So publishers – like Marvel Comics – imbued – or filled – their characters with human problems. I can't imagine a character like Captain America worrying about small things – or bickering with his wife!
S: And bickering means arguing about things that aren't important. Well, like you said earlier, times change, Neil. These days, the publishing houses want to attract a more diverse – or varied – readership: teenagers, women, ethnic minorities – who want superheroes they can relate to, facing issues from racial discrimination to bickering at home.
D: I know that women are indeed interested in superheroes because they've been appearing in movies and on TV, but the world of comic books has always been a bit of a guy thing.
S: Well, it isn't. Women read them and in some places women work in them. In Japan for example, we have the manga – these are Japanese comic books for adults and children. And, guess what – there is a strong tradition of female illustrators there.
S:Yes, that’s ture. Ok ,so this is the end of today’s culture express. See you next week.
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