An amazing array of superhero shows has attracted a lot of viewers to television sets and other devices.
Many will return in the fall for a new season. Some like “Limitless” on CBS won’t.
But the concept of an average guy gaining great intellect and being a top-notch crime-solver from taking a pill appealed to people in these difficult times.
Shows such as “Supergirl,” “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” drew large audiences. People flocked to recent movies such as “Batman v Superman,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
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We like these films and shows because they offer an escape from day-to-day reality. These 21st century times are not good, prompting people to turn to the fantasy of awesome saviors just as Americans did during the Great Depression and World War II when superheroes started and enjoyed wide audience appeal defeating incredible foes.
The Great Recession left people staggered and unsure about the future. The killings this month of black men in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn., by police followed by the shootings of police officers in Dallas by an angry, black Army Reserve veteran who told police he wanted to kill white officers have people worried and unsure.
Added to that racial tension and two years of Black Lives Matter protests is the middle class rapidly losing economic and social ground with more people falling into poverty’s great hole. And they are not oblivious of what’s happening.
A recent Pew Research Center analysis of census data shows that for the first time since 1880, adults ages 18 to 34 now are more likely to be living in their parents’ home than they were to be living on their own or with a spouse or partner.
Suicide rates for black men dropped. So did black infant mortality.
At the same time the opioid epidemic has hit white America disproportionately hard, causing a rise in mortality rates of middle-class white adults from suicide, heroin overdose, prescription opioids or alcohol-related diseases.
Is it any wonder? An Economic Innovation Group study profiling more than 25,000 ZIP codes comprising 99 percent of the population showed more than 50 million Americans remain in the grip of poverty, unemployment and a personal state of recession.
It’s also as if the wealthiest Americans are isolated from the rest of us. The nation’s richest ZIP codes have continued to prosper while people in the most destitute ones wonder how they’ll make ends meet, widening the gap between people in this segregated and vastly unequal nation.
The top 10 most distressed cities, starting with the worst, are Cleveland (where the Republicans are to have their national convention to anoint billionaire Donald Trump as their nominee for president); Detroit; Newark, N.J.; Toledo, Ohio; San Bernardino, Calif.; Stockton, Calif.; Milwaukee; Buffalo, N.Y.; Memphis; and Cincinnati. Of the 100 largest cities in America, St. Louis is 16th in the distress ranking and 60th in inequality and Kansas City is 51st in the distress ranking and 18th in inequality. These are largely older cities that have been devastated by the loss of manufacturing jobs as plants and work have moved overseas.
White America is awakening to the reality that many people of color have lived with, and quite frankly it’s as frightening as the police shootings. So Americans keep turning to superheroes hoping to be rescued. In reality, however, that burden falls on us.