The banning of Batman
Does dressing up create a dangerous fantasy world?
Image: via Shutterstock

US cinemas have banned moviegoers from dressing up as Batman and other super heroes following the mass shooting at the premiere in Aurora, Colorado. Kids (and adults) who are fans have been traditionally dressed up when going to the movies to check out the latest offering on film. Now, with the shocking interruption of this tradition, they’ll have to keep their dressing up for home.

Sadly, Batman is a hero without super powers- he’s wealthy and not too bad at martial arts, but one of the reasons kids love him is that he’s just like us- our collective conscience transformed into action.

"Look, mom, I can fly!"

It’s part of growing up- you go to a movie, and, for a day or two after leaving the haven of the cinema, you BECOME YOUR HERO. I remember leaping off the garage roof and (briefly) flying after watching Superman. I thought I could breakdance, too, after watching that dreadful 80s movie of the same name. My karate-themed pyjamas turned me into Bruce Lee. I wore them until they were threadbare.

Will this horrific act of violence affect the way kids are allowed to fantasise about being crime-fighting heros, bravely capturing nefarious villains?

Probably not. Although some kids have been injured in daft acts of silliness such as leaping from windows with a sheet and a clothes peg acting as a cape, most know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Dressing up is a way of processing the knowledge that “baddies” exist, and that ordinary people are perfectly capable, sometimes, of preventing other people with deviant moral compasses from gaining the upper hand.

Locally, kids aren’t banned from dressing up as Batman, Spiderman or anyone else, for that matter. For now, parents will indulge them the twilight of their innocence, an innocence where good and evil are clearly separated, and ordinary men and women can choose to do the right thing.

Is dressing up helpful or harmful to kids?

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