15 Sep How Comics and Baby Boomers Influenced the World: A Comparative Study (Pt:4)
The sixties had been a trial by fire experience for baby boomers and comic books. In both cases, a defiance of established norms had resulted in significant change. Baby boomers understood that as generational force, they had the power to effect real change in society. The comics industry, as a popular medium recognized that their stories were a source of influence for the young generation that was now coming of age. As baby boomers and comics flexed their respective “muscles of influence”, the seventies would illustrate the results of social change.
Even a child of the seventies will have trouble attempting to describe the decade. Simply put, it was different than any other previous decade. Not necessarily bad, not necessarily good (terms which are relative to whomever you are speaking too); just different. In reality, the cultural mindset of the seventies was a direct result of the actions that baby boomers had taken in the previous decade. The seventies are a period in which baby boomers were entering the workforce en masse and their recognition that they held the keys to transform a society wasn’t wasted.
Whereas a wave of conservatism had swept the country in the fifties, the seventies would see a similar wave of liberalism. Needless to say, older generations were aghast at the changes that were taking place. And the changes were reflective everywhere, including the mediums that baby boomers sought entertainment in.
From music to television to comic books; the ideas and behavior that so personifies the seventies were promoted. Comic books continued to advance such ideas as racial equality in not so subtle stories about the struggles of being a minority. For the first time, heroes of color such as the Black Panther and Black Lightening made their appearances in their own comic books, as comics became more culturally diverse. These early images of minorities in strong positions would help to serve as inspiration and role models for many minorities struggling with racial adversity.
Along with heroes of color, comics also took note of issues of gender equality issues as well. Baby boomers of the seventies, especially the ladies, began to assert that women had an equal place in the world with their male counterparts. From sports to the work place, women were demanding and gaining better treatment. Title IX, for example, introduced legislation in 1972 that provided equal opportunity for women to participate in school athletics.
Comics, at this point, would portray women in strong secondary roles in contrast with major characters – Lois Lane to Superman, Carol Farris to Green Lantern and others. Women were shown as capable professional individuals and not sex objects or placed in stereotypical situations. Like minority superheroes, women heroes began to emerge from supporting roles to star in their own books as well, such as Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel. Young women would embrace these concepts whole heartedly.
The seventies can be seen as a transition period. Women and minorities would soon assume greater roles in society at large, but those gains were as a result of the ideas that were being set forth in the mediums of the seventies, including comic books. Baby boomers and comics in this time period openly experimented with the ideas that would begin to shape the decades to come.
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