American Superhero culture grew from 10% of our top movies in 2010 to 50% in 2014. Superheros were introduced in the 1930’s during the great depression as a way of dealing with the tragedies of the time, whether personal, political or socioeconomic, these stories have managed to adapt to each generation and instill a sense of hope and inspiration. Even more surprising is that audiences aren’t just kids, but allegiance spans people well into their 30’s and 40’s.
Joan Didion has long been considered a ‘moral compass’ for her generation and I believe there is a similar draw to her work as there is to the ‘Superhero Culture’, considering the scarcity in our current culture to champion values over gain. The stars of our generations are actors or people that, at their core, provide little in the way of substance or character, many who allow camera’s to invade their home, living on a surface level, with little interior depth. Where are our modern day heros? They are around, just a little harder to find, not being the loudest at the cultural dinner table one must dig a little deeper. But I think the cultic love of Joan Didion draws on the same principals as the superhero culture, a need for truth, someone that dares to do the hard things even in the face of horrific loss. Someone who cherishes and humbly seeks self respect over fame and works hard.
For me, Joan Didion has been an unofficial cheerleader in my life. Someone whose principles align with mine, and has encouraged me to work towards those, even when it wasn’t the current preamble. Someone who’s enchantment with her talents and life kept her going amidst uncanny odds. And as she did for generations of women before me, I hear her quiet call to rise up and be the kind of person that quietly gives hope to others through their lifes work and choices. To be the kind of person that at the end of their life leaves a legacy, full of substance and wisdom and creativity to another generation, and many more after that. A stepping stone, a guiding light, a moral compass… the kind of woman that doesn’t need to tell others about their greatness, because we all know she’s a superhero.