Research examines SpiderMable’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ and why it exploded online

Click to play video: 'Researcher explores why SpiderMable’s journey resonated with so many people' Researcher explores why SpiderMable’s journey resonated with so many people
WATCH ABOVE: Almost two years ago, SpiderMable captured the hearts of Edmontonians as she took on a superhero mission. As Emily Mertz explains, a researcher is now looking into exactly why her journey resonated with so many people – Jul 14, 2017

A University of Alberta master’s degree student is exploring the SpiderMable phenomenon and how the six-year-old superhero captured hearts across the online world.

“The story of SpiderMable was shared across the world on Sept. 28, 2015,” Matty Flores said.

“It was the most trending topic across Canada on Twitter on that day and… it hit countries as far as Brazil, Australia, China.”

Mable was battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia when the Children’s Wish Foundation made her dream reality.

She was transformed into SpiderMable and with the help of the Edmonton Oilers, West Edmonton Mall, the Valley Zoo and the City of Edmonton, she was whisked around the city to fight crime like a true superhero.

READ MORE: SpiderMable to the rescue! Young girl successfully saves Edmonton Oilers captain from evil 

Watch below: Thanks to the power of social media, SpiderMable’s story stretched much farther than just Edmonton. Quinn Ohler has the details.

Flores said there were 34,000 tweets and retweets about SpiderMable in a 48-hour period. The event even garnered tweets from celebrities and politicians, including Premier Rachel Notley, then-prime minister Stephen Harper and comedian Kevin Smith. Flores used several online tools to archive and organize those tweets.

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“If anybody is having a down day and they want to feel inspired or motivated, I suggest you just go in, type in #SpiderMable and you’ll be so uplifted.

“It really demonstrates the positiveness inside the community and the goodness.”

Flores sifted through the posts for common themes that might explain why her story resonated with so many people.

“Part of that was seeing if it was translatable to the Hero’s Journey — which was originally 17 steps or 14 stages a hero goes through — and it followed almost identically… a 1949 theory.

“In a Hero’s Journey, by Joseph Campbell, you get the call to adventure — that’s the very first step,” Flores explained. “You get involved in this little adventure and you have to overcome challenges and through that, you succeed. When you succeed, you come back and you yourself are transformed, but you also transform the community and those around you.”

Watch below:  In Spetember 2015, peace was restored in Edmonton thanks to a brave little girl. Here’s a look back on SpiderMable’s adventurous day.

SpiderMable and Spiderman arrive at police headquarters to get information about the villain who has kidnapped Oiler Andrew Ference, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Emily Mertz, Global News
SpiderMable shows a photo of villain Mysterio, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Emily Mertz, Global News
SpiderMable receives proclamation from Edmonton mayor to track down villain who kidnapped Oilers captain Andrew Ference, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Emily Mertz, Global News
SpiderMable continues her adventure in Edmonton on Sept. 28, 2015. Dave Carels / Global News
SpiderMable continues her adventure in Edmonton on Sept. 28, 2015. Dave Carels / Global News
Mable Tooke, aka SpiderMable, ziplines in Edmonton Alta, on Monday September 28, 2015. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press
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SpiderMable takes down the evil Mysterio to free Edmonton Oilers Captain Andrew Ference Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Emily Mertz, Global News
SpiderMable saves the day at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Emily Mertz, Global News
SpiderMable saves the City of Edmonton from evil!. Emily Mertz, Global News
SpiderMable continues her adventure in Edmonton on Sept. 28, 2015. Dave Carels / Global News

Flores found while SpiderMable’s adventure corresponded with a traditional Hero’s Journey, the modern application of social media allowed for much more interaction with those following her story.

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“When you see the whole picture of all the tweets during that day or those two days, it composed a whole story,” he said. “It was like everybody was an individual writer contributing into this one universal myth that made up the whole story… We all contributed to this great event and we had such a great role model in SpiderMable.”

READ MORE: Ryan Reynolds comes to Edmonton with Deadpool movie for boy in hospital 

His research uncovered an overwhelmingly positive response. Flores says SpiderMable even inspired young kids to start their own fundraisers. He described it as “an inspirational snowball.”

“The traditional means of storytelling, the media, and then all the individuals in the community participating in this great event all to make this one girl’s dream come true. And, in the end, it was a reflection of ourselves and I think it had so much more impact.”

READ MORE: Thousands rally to turn San Francisco into Gotham City for young leukemia patient 

Whether it’s 1949 or 2015, Flores says human beings love a story that makes becoming a superhero a real possibility.

“Heroes are so important because they influence us to be something greater than ourselves or to contribute to something more than just one individual. Part of the lesson learned from my research was that we want to achieve symbolic immortality and it’s a way to contribute to society, to leave a footprint or a legacy.”


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