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The Impact of Socially Relevant Comics in the 1960's

Comics had an important impact on the culture of the 1960's, especially the late 1960's, with their discussion of socially relevant themes and ideas. As in all era's, comics in the 60s reflected the attitudes and opinions of society. What made this time period unique was the direct attitude and abrupt approach used when broaching these sensitive subjects. Ideas and themes, such as drug use, the Civil Right's movement, and numerous other concerns at the forefront of the American consciousness. Seeing these themes directly addressed in comic books gave them perspective, and allowed for the important analysis of the emotional states of characters involved in these interactions.

A perfect example of this can be seen in man of the Spiderman comics of this era. For example, in some stories, Peter Parker was forced to deal with real, human problems in 60's society, only to discover that his powers were not enough. This was a tremendous thought for superheroes everywhere. The theory of of infallibility was shattered forever. This spoke to the sense of helplessness felt by many people during this time period; they felt, and rightly so, that society was facing problems that needed everyday people to rise up and try to solve. It was not enough for a few talented individuals to take a stand, though this was still important. Rather, the stories emphasized that in order for any of the changes people sought were to be successful, then they had to be made with popular support.

One of he major challenges faced in the late 60's was the growing drug culture. This culture was largely a result of the rebellious spirit of the early 60's. This issue was addressed several times throughout "Spiderman". In one case, ether feels overwhelmed by the fact that there is almost nothing Spiderman can do against the relentless wave of drug use and the crimes associated with it. Instead, it is one of he rare occasions where trying to save the day falls to Peter Parker. He puts together a protest with several of his friends, just as so many had done in reality. Another aspect of the drug scene that the SPiderman comics took seriously when most people had previously not considered it was the idea that not all drug users are bad. This was the case when Peter had to deal with the fact that Harry Osborn was becoming addicted to popping pills as a result of the stress heft. This stress was the result of perfectly legitimate concerns : his relationship troubles with Mary Jane. This illustrated the newly emerging concept that perhaps the way to fight drug use lay in helping, not shunning, people who had become addicted.

Another concept the Spiderman concepts in particular directly addressed was the issue of race. In several important issues, the characters openly discuss the different negative stereotypes that exist towards racial minorities, and how these effect the group and society as a whole. Randy Robertson played a key role in these discussions, often times being the character that instigated them by pointing out an unfair practice, stereotype, or double standard. The X-men, with there diverse origins and metaphoric place as "outsiders", was another example of addressing the issue directly. Overall, these were some of the first instances of direct address for an audience.

The late 60's was a time for people to begin considering the changes wrought by the tumultuous nature of the previous decade. This was reflected in much of the media at the time, it just through comics. The musical Hair is an important example of this, as well as the rebellious theatrical and artistic styles that were developed during this period. Even the way people dressed became symbolic of the era's rebellion. Overall, this time period is one of the first examples of media being used to address difficult social problems, some of them not very mainstream, directly.

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