Last weekend, I was one of many movie-goers who saw the new Wonder Woman (oh, how I wish I had a Lasso of Truth to bring with me to Capitol Hill). At the same time, my colleagues at Goodwill Industries International are excited about a partnership with Sony in advance of the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Superheroes are definitely on the mind.
I recently had the privilege of listening to Andrew Slack, an Ashoka fellow who spoke at a conference about his method of storytelling called “cultural acupuncture”. Andrew describes this as, “We dream at night, but our culture dreams through books and movies and stories. Working with those stories is cultural dream work. Working with stories that we put energy into is cultural acupuncture….In cultural acupuncture, we find where the psychological energy is in the culture, and move that energy towards creating a healthier body for our world. In cultural acupuncture, stories are the proverbial needles; stories are what resonate. Stories are what can expand our civic imagination and allow us a transformed sense of agency.”
For example, the Hunger Games series has been used to spur conversations about economic inequality, Star Wars opened dialogue around money in politics, and Slack has used Superman and Hamilton to expand the conversations around immigration. I plan on using Wonder Woman as a starting point to have a conversation about feminism with my nephew.
Most people enjoy the summer blockbusters as a way to escape from the “real world” for a few hours, but I’m challenging myself to go deeper. How can we embody the superheroes that are needed in our communities? How can we leverage our imaginations to solve the policy issues facing our nation? While I may not be able to stop bullets with my gold bangles or shoot a web from my wrist, I am an informed advocate, I make a difference in my community, and I give voice to people who feel that they have no power. What kind of superhero are you?