In an image being circulated on social media, with the name of the school and school officials vaguely redacted (you can almost make them out), a flyer distributed at a pre-school bans school-time play from mimicking TV shows and movies due to their violence. But the central image on the flyer depicts superheroes with a large red bar through the group, conjuring the days of Wertham campaigns. Though it’s possible that this document is some kind of fabrication to generate discussion, there’s no direct evidence that the document is a joke or a forgery, so decide for yourself what kind of implications this may have.
The document states that children’s “imaginations” have become “dangerously overactive causing injuries”. Couldn’t that happen with any kind of make-believe play among children? Isn’t monitoring the level of danger part of a school’s responsibility, rather than unilaterally banning superhero themes in play? The types of games banned are “Wrestling, Super Hero play, and Monster games”, strange phrasing at best. No monsters either? This encompasses pretty much all types of conflict-based games that are fairly deeply rooted in the psyche of childhood. The flyer blames “re-enactment” as the problem, and could be related to the recent release of plenty of action movies like Iron Man 3, but you’d be hard pressed to find a cartoon on a children’s network that doesn’t display many of the same things.
If they aren’t pretending to be a super hero, children will just as easily act out the same types of conflict scenarios through cops and robbers or war games. But putting super heroes at the top of the list is an extreme gesture, and one that displays plenty of ignorance despite the assurance that “safety” is the school’s biggest concern. I’m sure it is. No schools want to see children injured on their grounds, lawsuits aside. But what do you expect from a document that also has typos despite the fact that it’s issued by a school?
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.