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Why blame comics for societal failure?

During the late 1940s and into the early 1950s many Americans were becoming with the turn that comic books were taking. Previously comic books mainly contained superheroes and positive messages, but now since there was less of a need for superheroes the industry looked for a different genre and stories to tell through comic books. The most successful genres that the industry came out with were the new type of crime comics and horror comics. These new crime comics were not the same as earlier crime comics, these comics depicted detailed crime scenarios and people getting shot on more than half of every picture in the book, and the criminals would not be punished until sometimes the very last frame of the book, giving the impression that punishment was so important to the story. Not unlike the crime comics the new genre of horror comics were just what they sound like a variety of horror stories told through the comic book medium. These stories were very gruesome showing people getting killed in a number of different ways. In one story a man killed his with and then ate her in order to get rid of the evidence. Due to these types of stories many people were becoming worried that they were having negative effect on their children and society as a whole, including Dr. Frederic Wertham. Dr. Wertham was very adamant about this subject and blamed comics for the numerous troubled youth that were his patients. In his article The Comics… Very Funny he directly blamed comics for the crimes and atrocities that children and teenagers committed, he found that the common factor between all of these cases was that all of these children read several comic books a day. Although he was a very well respected psychologist, I think that Dr. Wertham may have blown this whole blaming comic books for societal failures out of proportion. Reading crime and horror comics wouldn’t make anybody want to go out to murder and pillage any more than watching Bugs Bunny hit Daffy Duck over the head with a bat would make a child go out and do the same to his siblings.

Comments

Bill Svitavsky said…
Why do you believe Wertham was wrong about the bad influence of comics? Can you dispute the logic of his findings that the common factor between among juvenile delinquents was that they all read comics?

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