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Why Blame Comics for Societal Failure?

Why blame comics for societal failure? In the 1950’s comic books were blamed for societal failure for a multitude of reasons. The main reason being the dark nature that comics took on after World War II. They changed from being short funny comics and righteous superheroes into horrors about the walking dead and sneaky criminals. They also began portraying dark scenarios involving people of rank, such as policemen, government officials, and large business owners. These dark comics were being sold to children who of course loved reading about these dark subjects. Fredric Wertham was a psychiatrist who attacked the horror and crime comics books by saying that they were polluting our youth., and that they were the sole reason that kids were becoming delinquents. His theory came from the years he spent in mental hospitals, and the link he found between most of the younger patients was comics. He claimed the comics were making kids distort reality, and that the comics were glorifying crime as well as the criminals who took part in the crimes. These accusations led to the Comics code Authority which reviewed each comic before it was published. All this publicity that comics were getting was negative and ended up forcing writer and illustrators to censor their creations. Comics were not the only form of media going under scrutiny in the 1950’s and personally I don’t think they deserved as much blame as they got. Censorship in comic books came to an all time high during this time and it really hurt the industry. Comic books were not the cause for societal failure. The 1950’s were a prosperous time in America anyway, so there was no culprit at all. Wertham used his doctrine to convince the public that the reason their kids were acting up was because of comics. Which was not true, because comics had nothing to do with societal failure.


Bill Svitavsky said…
As you observe, the fifties were a prosperous time for the U.S., so the whole notion of "societal failure" is questionable. The logical next question, then, is why was there widespread perception of some sort of failure at a time of such prosperity?

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