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Child Soldiers • Superhero Ethics • Episode 306

Child Soldiers

The stories we love often involve teen and younger kids jumping into a mech suit, picking up a lightsaber, or using their superpowers to fight for justice, sometimes quite literally going to war. Yet in our own world, we generally recognize that using children to fight wars or enforce justice through violence is wrong, dangerous, and incredibly harmful. How do we reconcile those two ideas?

Riki and Matthew talk about stories like Gundam, Star Wars, Ender’s Game, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Last Starfighter through the lens of child soldiers. They explore a number of questions including:

  1. Why does so much of our media focus on kids jumping into the fight?
  2. What are the ethical questions raised by adults marshaling children for war?
  3. Is there a difference between adults telling kids to fight, vs. kids who volunteer, often against the express wishes of the adults?
  4. Is an 18th birthday a magic line, and all fighting on one side is wrong, but on the other is okay? Are some 16-year-olds better able to handle fighting than other 21-year-olds?

Bonus member content on the idea of episodic television shows in Star Wars.

Riki Hayashi and Matthew Fox explore the ethical questions from the stories geeks love—superheroes, sci-fi, anime, fantasy, video games, and so much more.
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