Harry Potter wakes up one day to discover he’s rich, famous and has magical powers. Surprise! This pattern of bestowed wealth, power and fame repeats in many of the most popular franchises.
Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker are ‘discovered’ by old men with beards and told they’re special because they have extremely high levels of ‘midiclorians’ – meaning they could be particularly powerful Jedis.
A number of super-heroes, with notable exceptions like Ironman, Batman and Thor – who are born rich and famous – are gifted special abilities after a freak accident. Spiderman, The Hulk and The Fantastic Four are 3 examples which spring to mind.
The common theme here is that kids are encouraged to think, that one day, with no effort, they’re going to be successful/talented/powerful. That they’re just a sleep away from being whisked off to a magical world where their every dream can be realised. And despite a few tough battles with sketchy baddies, they’re going to win out in the end.
It may seem harsh of me to expect children not to dream but are we teaching our kids the wrong lesson time and time again? I ask this question because it’s very recently dawned on me that I’m not special, and that hard work and happiness are more important than fame or power. I’m 30.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’re raising modern men and women to think the world owes them something. Or that we’re seeing a steady increase in UK suicide rates in under 30s. Celebrity culture is persistent and pervasive, compounded by social media channels like Instagram where people only show their best side.
It’s up to parents, governments and schools to change attitudes, and that means getting a grip of what’s really important. For me, it’s about teaching failure as a part of success. It means teaching hard work, working with people, and happiness, are more important than a thousand people who don’t know you, screaming your name.