Saturday, March 1, 2014

Heroes: Who Needs 'Em?

We all are familiar with heroes from our childhood. They were bigger than life, perfect in every way. I grew up with Matt Dillon, Batman, and Superman. Heroes had weak spots, but never in their characters. They were perfect examples of... well, heroes.

We used to cringe behind the couch when Lex Luthor hauled out that random sampling of Kryptonite and threw it in  Superman's face, and the Man of Steel would collapse in a quivering, helpless heap and become just another guy in Spandex with his tighties on the outside. Embarrassing.
Psst- hey, Stupid! You're supposed to get all weak, not eat the stuff!
There, that's better. Dude, you gotta stay consistent with these things.
Now, as I was saying, we all looked u to Superman and those other heroes because, as heroes, they were pretty much impervious to character flaws. I mean, you never saw Clark Kent or Superman step over the line with Lois Lane. We all hoped Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty were involved, but we never saw so much as a smooch. Or if there was, I missed that episode.
I mean, just look at that. Hands appropriately arrayed in a family-friendly way, the strong set in the jaw, Mr. Boy Scout all over.
Then the '70's hit, and Hollywood not only gave us heroes who were human, they gave us heroes who were bad guys. In short, they told us there were no heroes anymore. In Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, the characters are all about stealing a huge amount of money.
Another one was The Doberman Gang.
These movies are either bringing back memories, or bringing up lunch. Seriously, though, they're prime examples of the pendulum swinging the other way. I think it reached its opposite extreme sometime before 1980.
Then we started seeing heroes kind of come back, only sporting the scars of the '70's. The pendulum seemed to kind of center with films like Spacehunter, Molly Ringwald's debut in the trade
Okay, I can hear you now: "Where in the world does he come up with these oddball, obscure movies? Hey, I claim no normal upbringing. Most of you already know me if you've been following my latest interviews and blog posts, and there wasn't a whole lot of normal in my life. But it is what it is.
Anyway, back on task. Our heroes were heroes again, but they had flaws. They drank too much, or they were slobs, or they had a weakness for the opposite gender. In other words, they were human.
Which, I believe, was a good move. Because (Those taking notes, put a star here) I believe there are two types of heroes: Those who are born, and those who are made.
The first type is the one who naturally runs toward the screaming, the gunfire, the chaos. My youngest is like that. When all hell breaks loose, he is on the scene, whether he knows what to do or not. Prime example time.
When the kids were toddlers, my younger daughter got hold of a sharp knife from the table. I was doing dishes and it was waiting to be washed (What? You other men don't wash dishes once in a while? For shame!) Anyway, I turn around and there she is, holding this knife.
Now, as a dad, I need to not only get the knife from her, but I need her to understand why Daddy doesn't want her to wave a carving knife all over the kitchen. So I get it from her, and take her hand, just to show her the tip of the knife is sharp, when in comes a two-year-old blonde streak, and puts himself between me and my daughter. Seems he thought I was going to stab her. Holy cats. Lesson over. He's wrapped himself around her, screaming hysterically, and he has no idea why. He still does that. The best thing I can do for him is to teach him first aid and CPR. He's a natural born hero. I might as well teach him what to do once he gets there, than have him get in everyone's way.
Then there's the other hero. The one who's forged in the furnace of hardship. They're just normal folks, to whom running from the trouble is simply not an option. They're the mom who's kid is under the car. They are the teenaged boy whose neighbor in class is taken with a Grand Mal seizure. They are the young man or woman fresh from boot camp, in a far away land whose unit walks into an ambush.
In many cases, heroes are just people who are forced by circumstance to do heroic things because it's the only option that makes sense. You see it again and again on the news.
Which means heroes are regular folk. I look into the character of each of my heroes, and see how human they are. Jon treats NADIA like a piece of garbage for a while because he feels like his memories of Alicia are violated. Later on he falls into temptation with someone else. Not because he's an inherent ass. It's because he's a human male, and heroes who can overcome themselves as well as the bad guys, are the best heroes.

And God knows, we need more heroes today.
But those are just my own thoughts on the subject. What kind of heroes are your favorites, and why? 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, cool post. After reading this, I kinda wanna see Spacehunter now... if I can find it, lol. Have you ever seen the movie Escape From New York? It's awesome! And the hero is sort of an antihero. He's a bad guy placed in a tough position where New York's been turned into a state-wide prison and he has to go in and save the U.S. President. It's so cool.

    Movies aside, I would agree that many of the greatest heroes are just regular people forced to do heroic things because they have to. There's no other option. So, good post. I'm going to hunt for that Spacehunter movie now. :D