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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Boggles the Mind

I can’t recall exactly when in my youth I began to appreciate graphic novels and comic books. What I do remember from childhood was watching Christopher Reeve play the role of Superman (1978) and enjoying his embodiment of the superhero.

Superman represented popularized values of the time, such as “truth, justice and the American way.” I didn’t know much about nationalism or jingoism at the time, though I appreciated the idea of serving a cause greater than that relating to my own interests.

Additionally, among other hero content, I reveled in Lou Ferrigno’s depiction of The Incredible Hulk, Lynda Carter’s representation of Wonder Woman, and Sam J. Jones’ portrayal of Flash Gordon. And yes, I was that kid in the neighborhood who tucked a pillowcase into his shirt—forming a cape—and pretended to battle imaginary foes.

I even weaved together leftover rubber bands from my older sister’s paper route, forming a couple of interlocked two-foot elastic chains, and attached them to my wrists and the corresponding handlebars of my bicycle. I quickly discovered that Spider-Man couldn’t steer a bike with webs, as there was nothing amazing about my resulting injuries.

Though I used to look at printed work, such as Archie Comics, Groo the Wanderer, MAD, The Far Side, and Calvin and Hobbes—having owned the complete works of the latter two, it wasn’t until my teen years that I truly valued Marvel Comics. Wolverine was my favorite character.

There was something about individuals who retained extraordinary abilities with which I connected. Rather than wanting to see myself represented by these characters, I cherished the idea of imagined gallantry.

As an adult, I was overjoyed when watching X-Men (2000), followed thereafter by other X-Men films. Unlike different film series adapted from beloved childhood content, such as G.I. Joe and Transformers, I wasn’t disappointed by what I told myself about superhero movies.

That was until Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) apparently began promoting altered messaging of the comics I once enjoyed. In particular, in a blogpost entitled Oki-woke, Pinoke, I outlined matters of contention with diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA) policies and activity.

Rather than rebooting my DEIA entry, because I see no significance in doing so—much in the same way I consider MCU reboots inconsequential to me, I’ll offer my perspective of how DEIA measures appear to serve the MCU thus far—or rather my belief about these matters.

Though I could cite data which demonstrate how ineffective DEIA policies have been at driving revenue for the MCU, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t as though employees of Marvel Studios are unaware of how much money they’re losing on films and series alike.

In fact, I’ve watched a number of interviews and read comments from Marvel, acknowledging how poorly their actions have been received by fans like me. Nonetheless, they continue injecting DEIA principles into their content.

Plainly, Marvel Studios executives, content creators, actors, and others are moving in the direction of the company’s choosing. Though it boggles the mind as to why an organization would choose detrimental DEIA policies, Marvel Studios has the freedom to do as it will.

As a fan of superhero content for several decades, I dislike the direction of the MCU. As a mental health practitioner, I acknowledge my powerlessness in regards to controlling or influencing Marvel.

Earlier in this blogpost, I stated, “I wasn’t disappointed by what I told myself about superhero movies,” as this is the point of focus when it comes to Marvel Studios. It isn’t that DEIA activity that bothers me, though what I believe about such activity that could cause self-disturbance.

Practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I’m familiar with the ABC Model. Instead of an Action-Consequence connection, I understand that a Belief-Consequence connection is how people make themselves angry. For instance:

Action – Many MCU films feature DEIA-influenced themes.

Belief – Observing the action, John Doe believes, “Marvel Studios shouldn’t force this on me and because it does, I can’t stand it!”

Consequence – As a consequence of his unhelpful belief about the action, John’s shoulders become tight, he grits his teeth, he becomes angry, and he begins to tear at his clothes as though he were mimicking Hulk.

Rather than Hulking out like John Doe, I choose not to disturb myself. Rather, I realize that when it comes to outrage, I’m responsible for my reactions to matters related to events I encounter.

I may wish for Marvel to stop emasculating men, pushing DEIA character narratives which are racially divisive, and from taking an antagonistic attitude towards fans. However, I am in no way entitled to have personal demands fulfilled by the company.

For instance, I can watch Black Panther (2018) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), displeased with racial stereotypes depicting black people as mimicking monkeys, hearing dominant black characters expressing bigoted phrases like “white boy,” and observing a racist delusion about black and brown people uniting to fight against white people.

I can further recognize the real-world ramifications of these actions, as prior to her appointment to Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris—arguably the beneficiary of a DEIA position of power and privilege—proudly displayed a racially insensitive Wakanda forever gesture on a comedic late night talk show:

I can even entertain the idea of repudiation to my criticism, though predicting similar support wouldn’t result for Donald Trump if he remotely flashed a gesture perceived to be in support of white power—even in gest. Double standards exist.

While it boggles the mind how irrationally some people are regarding the elements I’ve outlined herein, I can tolerate and accept differences of opinion. This includes DEIA principles I find reprehensible and action on behalf of Marvel that I consider disgraceful.

Therefore, while I don’t like or love what has been done to the superhero genre I once adored, I can live a life free from fear, anger, sorrow, or disgust in association with what has occurred. In this regard, my level of frustration tolerance is high.

How about you, dear reader, would you like to know more about how not to become upset by what you believe in regards to matters with which you disagree? Would you prefer astonishment over rage when encountering such issues? I may be able to help.

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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