In the brutal battlefield of junior high...
Fourteen-year-old Sam Wheeler knows the only way to survive Roosevelt Junior High School is to stay below radar. But that's impossible after Jason Kingsley picks a fight with him. When a video of Sam crying after losing the brawl goes viral, he can’t escape the humiliation. His parents seem oblivious and his only friend, Adam, pressures him to hit back or it’ll only get worse.
But Sam would rather just disappear. That's when he starts to realize he is developing superpowers—at least, he seems to be able to fly, even destroy things with barely the flex of his scrawny muscles. With increased bullying at school and alienation from his only friend, Sam is pushed to the edge: will he use his powers to “hit back” and if he does, who will he become in the process?
A modern fairytale exploring gender
through the lens of the superhero myth.
Our boys are in crisis. The age-old model of manhood—to be a warrior, a leader, the breadwinner—is disappearing. But nothing is emerging in its place—leaving a void of purpose. From the moment they’re born, our boys are trapped by this outdated construct of masculinity. And, what’s worse, they don’t know how to communicate that they’re trapped because the language they would use has been classified as off-limits because it's too “girly” or “gay.” I made BALLOON for my nephew—who at twelve I see already trying to reconcile who he is with what our culture expects of the masculine.
I made it for my brothers who I watched growing up, constrained by the same prison I found myself in. I also made it for the women in my life—some of whom collaborated on this project with me. They have too long had to stomach the toxicity of our culture’s dated concept of masculinity. But it’s also for me—for the boy I was who felt so isolated, unwelcome, and unloved. With BALLOON I give him the superpower he always wanted, and hopefully hint at the kind of hero he still can become.
Read more about Jeremy here.