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I have Funko Pop! figurines — small vinyl sculptures that depict characters from various pop culture franchises — lining my shelves.
Pennywise, the creepy clown from Stephen King’s “It,” glares menacingly from his spot in front of my two copies of the book. Hoban “Wash” Washburne, from the short-lived television series “Firefly,” lounges next to him. A little ways down the shelf, E.T. extends a glowing finger. And then there are my favorite superheroes — Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel — posed respectively in front of the series of comics that made me fall in love with them.
But the next superhero figure I add to my Funko collection may not have the power of flight or even superhuman strength — though the strength they’ve displayed in the face of adversity seems superhuman to many.
On May 22, Funko announced that it was releasing a new line of Pop! Heroes to honor front line healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. These 4-inch figurines look determined as heck, sporting scrubs, lab coats and face masks and are posed with their arms crossed or hands on their hips.
Funko said that along with creating this collection, it also made a donation to GlobalGiving, a 501c nonprofit organization that provides a global crowdfunding platform for grassroots charitable projects.
And while you can find these figurines on sites like Amazon and Entertainment Earth, retailers such as BoxLunch and Hot Topic are giving all net proceeds from the sales of these Funko figures to GlobalGiving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. The money raised for this fund goes toward helping people obtain necessities like food, sanitation and personal protective equipment.
The Problem With ‘Hero’
As amazing as these figurines and the cause they’re attached to are, it should be noted that many healthcare workers have resisted the label of “hero.”
“[M]edical workers are not self-identifying as heroes,” writes Anna Wexler for the Boston Globe. “Many, like my husband, feel like lambs being sent to slaughter.”
Wexler expresses frustration with the ways in which the hero narrative has been used to emphasize the bravery of healthcare workers who have been forced to work under dangerous conditions, often with a dearth of protective equipment. She worries that this depiction of frontline workers as heroes leaves little room for people within the healthcare field to be seen as human.
Still, at a time when we wish we could do something to help those workers considered essential at this time, raising the money to get them the gear they need seems a fantastic option.
Funko’s Front-Line Hero figures can be preordered for $10.99 each and are expected to arrive in late October.