Delores Fisher’s San Diego Comic Con Chronicles 2015 #4: Literacy
No, this is not going to be a blast at our nation’s literacy or lack thereof. Just wanted to consider Twenty-first century cultural literacy from the perspective of a once avid comic book reader, television cartoon watcher, and film goer, and club kid.
If one was into Funk music in the early 1970s, a childhood background of early morning cartoon watching (Here he comes to save the day . . . Mighty Mouse is on his way!), reading DC and Marvel comic book heroes,(Superman, Sgt. Fury and His Howling commandos) and watching sci-fi fantasy (The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and who can forget those frantic robotic words,”Danger Will Robinson?”) was common place. As a child, I read Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, August Derleth, Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, H. P. Lovecraft. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek provided me with expanded visions of African Americans living and accomplishing in a near future, visiting outer space and alien worlds.
As a teen in the early 70s, musically, I was aware of Sun Ra, Yosef Latif, Taj Mahal, of course Miles, and avant -garde classical, pop and jazz. music. Then in the mid-seventies, I heard George Clinton. I joined Mr. Star Child and his band.
So, it just made sense to me in the seventies after joining George Clinton and his Funkstateers to take my futuristic persona on stage and to also party at clubs in attire that was . . . well . . . different. (Ah for the days of Purple hair and butterfly cowboy boots).
Dressing up allowed me to exist as an artistic Black woman, capable of feats of incredible being there. Of course, one had to know the trends, the icons favored by club and performance party culture, what was right on and what wasn’t.
A not too dissimilar cultural literacy frequently abounds in 21st century Comic Con goers. From the Star trek franchise to apocalyptical characters to just plain fun personas, interacting with folks in a communal multi-cultural ambiance as they interpret our current pop culture sheroes. heroes, and icons into “beingness” is an interesting experience.
A working definition of cultural literacy? According to Encyclopedia. Com http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401801107.html
CULTURAL LITERACY refers to the concept that citizens in a democracy should possess a common body of knowledge that allows them to communicate effectively, govern themselves, and share in their society’s rewards. E. D. Hirsch Jr., a literary scholar, popularized the term in the best-selling book Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know in 1987. . . Hirsch maintained that early education should focus on content and that all students, not just a bright few, could achieve cultural literacy. Hirsch offered in his book 5,000 terms that he thought culturally literate Americans should recognize. The list included dates (“1776”), historical persons (“Brown, John”), titles of historic documents (“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”), figures of speech (“nose to the grindstone”), and terms from science (“DNA”). . . . Critics were afraid that Hirsch’s cultural literacy list was simplistic, presumed a uniform Eurocentric culture, failed to reflect the nation’s diversity of race and ethnicity. Hirsch answered his critics by greatly expanded his list in The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, published in 1988 and revised it in 1993 written with Joseph F. Kett and James Trefil. 1
Young people have a tendency become fans of folks, to look up to real life mentors and fictional characters. They constantly “read” pop culture as a way to make sense of their world. Our mulit-cultural society’s popular cultural narratives provide the worst (villains) and thankfully best (sheroes, heroes) examples of humanity. San Diego Comic-Con offered an opportunity to inhabit today’s visual and written narrative tableaus of potential, even for a post 1970s Funkstateers Afronaut like me.
- “Cultural Literacy.” Dictionary of American History. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. 16 Sep. 2015 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.web.