Nurse Nicholas Edler in The Baltimore Sun:
In the new Marvel movie, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” Captain America (Played by Chris Evans) is seen coolly riding his new Harley-Davidson on the streets of D.C. While watching this, I can only think of one thing: Where is Captain America’s helmet?
I am an intensive care unit nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the first trauma hospital in the world. We regularly see motorcyclists survive devastating crashes if for no other reason because they were wearing a helmet. For years, Marvel Entertainment, a Walt Disney Company, has had superheroes riding motorcycles without helmets — including Wolverine, Ghost Rider and the Punisher. This trend is also exemplified by DC Comics’ portrayals of Batman and Cat Woman riding the streets of Gotham City sans helmet. While this flippant disregard for safety regulations bothers me on any given day, I tend to keep it to myself since these characters are branded as dark, “bad-boy” personalities. But not today. This is the Captain America we are talking about, the Boy Scout of all superheroes. This law abiding soldier who is meant to exemplify the ideal role model citizen is seen in the movie deliberately breaking D.C.’s helmet law.
My initial response: IT’S A MOVIE!
This PG-13 movie is spun to be a family-friendly film, as evidenced by the countless associated toys and products released and targeted to younger children since the first film premiered. Those children are often highly impressionable — especially when it comes to the choices of superhero-like characters. What is mom to say when little Timmy doesn’t want to wear a helmet because Captain America doesn’t wear one? I’m not saying that children are only influenced by what they see, but Captain America isn’t helping quash the supposition that helmets are geeky. If any fictional superhero could make wearing a helmet cool, it would be Captain America. Heck, normally it’s the faceless henchman who wears a black tinted helmet during the motorcycle chase, as seen in James Bond’s “For Your Eyes Only.” Is this the type of people we want to associate with helmets?
My response: IT’S A MOVIE!
More from Edler:
Captain America, or should I say Steve Rogers, is far from invincible. Yes, he has extra strength and agility, but he gets hurt just like any one of us. If he were to fall off his motorcycle on I-495 without a helmet, there would be no walking away unharmed. It’s not a nice thing to think about, but it’s reality.
Captain America paints the picture of “cool” — riding his Harley with a leather jacket and jeans, slicked back hair, and … no helmet. This is not the image we want our kids to recall when they hop on their bicycles.
Once more: IT’S A MOVIE!
This one little scene showing negligence of motorcycle safety is part of a bigger trend in Hollywood, where characters frequently disregard safety procedures. Movie producers and directors need to be more responsible with the representation of the “good guys.” After all, these are the characters that many young kids dream of being one day, and we adults use as a form of incentive for eating vegetables, drinking milk and even going to bed on time so the little ones can grow up big and strong like, well, Captain America.
Throwing a helmet on the guy would take so little effort, but go a very long way.
IT’S A MOVIE!
More specifically, it’s a movie about a super soldier from WWII who was part of secret experiments who crash landed an aircraft in the ice pack where he was frozen for seventy years. In the latest movie, he has a friend named Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon) who flies around with a wingsuit. What if impressionable children try to fly off the roofs of buildings with their own homemade wingsuits?
In the opening of the new movie, Captain America jumps out of an aircraft onto a ship at sea without a parachute or a helmet. That’s apparently okay to show in Edler’s fantasy world, but not Steve Rogers riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
Of course, when he’s hanging out with the rest of the Avengers, Captain America is hanging out with Bruce Banner – “A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated.” Then there’s Thor, a Norse God whose powers include time travel.
I guess we need to make sure to show traffic safety in movies too when the Avengers get their helicarriers out of storage underneath the streets of Rosslyn.
Every state but two has at least some form of helmet law. All 48 of those helmet laws require minors to wear a helmet (up until age 17 some places and age 20 in others.) Maryland has specific laws dealing with minors riding along on motorcycles as well and they include wearing a helmet. Some of the laws in other states that don’t require helmets for adults do require them to carry extra insurance. Maryland’s law requires everyone to wear a helmet on a motorcycle.
There are plenty of educational efforts on wearing helmets for bicycling and motorcycle riding – just like all the anti-smoking and anti-obesity efforts. This ludicrous op-ed by a Shock Trauma nurse shows that, while he’s well-intentioned, he’s delusional. Now that smoking has all but been excised from any new movies, riding motorcycles with helmets must be the next nanny state target to get removed from movies. Then after that, they’ll go after junk food consumption in movies I suppose.
And, in closing, my response boils down to these three words one more time:
IT’S A MOVIE!
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.