So early tallies are coming in. The Avengers had a lucrative midnight showing Thursday with a box office haul of $18.7 Million. That puts them at 8th place for the highest grossing midnight showing according to some sites. The overall estimates from Disney are saying that the movie could hit $175M for the weekend.
I’ve been waiting for this film for who knows how long. Way before Marvel even decided to start the ambitious project. But recently I’ve been hoping that these comic and fantasy movies hit it big for a very different reason. Reading. Kids in particular. I want to see Kids start to read books and comics and material that holds golden gifts of imagination between their pages.
America, and I would say many other places, have been showing declines in levels of reading and the study of science. I can safely say that it’s not that kids are getting dumber, but maybe the adults are. it’s the adults that are teaching the kids, right? But here is the thing, kids growing up in the past also taught themselves in many ways. Information had to be read, and read slowly. The same thing with TV. Things weren’t coming at previous generations at MTV speeds. Children had time to work those cognitive little brain cells, and this taught them how to critically think.
Now I know I’m biased here, but science fiction, and things of that sort, held many examples of critical thinking. Not necessarily in an analytical sense, but definitely in a problem solving way.
Let me pull this back in so you understand where I’m coming from. Movies like The Avengers, Dark Knight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter and even twilight inspire kids to learn more about the literature the stories came from. I’m sure not many teachers would realize it, but comics were an early source of reading for many kids. For some it was the only source, because the traditional stuff in schools were difficult… and boring.
I’ve already seen the effects of Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games. Kids in the theaters know the stories backwards and forwards. No matter what their test scores say in school, those kids are eating up books.
Even though these stories are set in a fantasy world, or the future, they have substance enough to teach about human behavior and social structures. Hunger Games in particular, give examples of how societies can possibly work under certain conditions. I’m glad these books are finding an audience with young people.
Comics on the other hand have been suffering in sales over the years. Mainly because young people aren’t buying them anymore. There are a slew of reasons that they aren’t selling, but I’m mainly concerned about kids not being exposed to an alternate source of reading. There are plenty of children that have different learning styles, and comics and other sequentially illustrated works would fit them just fine. I was one of them. I hated reading the material they handed out in school. Thank God I discovered comics at an early age.
One day, when I was in a comic store, I saw a man and woman bring their kids in, evidently to get some magic cards (it’s a card game). While the dad was just as excited about getting the cards for his kids, the mother was trying to get them to look at the comics. She told them that she used to read them as a kid (I think it said Archie). Did the dad take the mom’s lead, and steer his kids in the direction of something they could read? No, he was too interested in the cards.
I say this because it was a small example of what our generation is doing to the kids. And this is why I hope The Avengers becomes so successful. If it does, Hollywood will keep on making these films. Kids will hopefully pick up a comic (even old ones) and start to question where these characters came from? Why do they have these powers? How will they get out of that situation? Maybe they will start to think about the technology they see in the comics. Possibly their little brains will come up with ideas and concepts for themselves. Granted, it’s not traditional study material, but comics and other stuff are gateway stuff for more mature reading and thinking. They put the grey-matter through multi-level exercises. And you just thought it was a funnybook. Just look at the adults that used to read this stuff. Scientist, doctors, engineers, inventors, creators… film directors.
So yes, I want to see Hollywood’s greed for blockbusters create seeds of imagination in our kids. Maybe they won’t grow up being spoon-fed the critical thinking equivalent of a bag of cheese doodles and a soda. I want to see them have the same chance of gaining an imagination and sense of right and wrong that we did.
Oh, and today was FREE COMIC DAY. I know I should have passed that little tidbit of info along earlier today, my apologies. I’m sure the comic stores have some left over.