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Hands Off My Hero!

Posted January 27th, 2011 at 11:57 AM by chas
Updated January 28th, 2011 at 09:59 AM by chas

“Batman is the real character; Bruce Wayne is the disguise.”
--Kevin Conroy, voice actor, Batman The Animated Series

“I still live!”
John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
--Proverbs, XXIX, 18

Now I don’t mind if an iconic hero being presented as a role model, be they* traditional mythological culture figure or comic book protagonist, is shot, stabbed, thrown from a cliff or a moving car, has their loved ones held hostage or murdered, gets sent to another planet or time period, gets tortured, or even loses their memory. But they are not allowed to give up. Not to cross the line into evil. One or twice if they atone for it? Okay. But permanently? Not never. Not no how. And if that’s an Old Guy Rant, well, I’m an old guy. Some day, if you’re lucky, you’ll be one too! I’m not for censorship, just sanity.

Now I give up, frequently, in real life situations. Being someone who likes to finish what I start, sometimes I give up rather than even begin. But my little foibles aren’t being broadcast to the Galaxy At Large as a positive example. If you want to make the turn to evil the memorable background of a villain, like Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader or Lex Luthor losing his hair, that’s fine. But Batman murdering people in a dystopic future? No sir. The Knight can be Dark, but not Black. That’s where I draw the line. Because kids are getting guns and shooting people these days.

As a kid during the Marvel Revolution of the early Sixties, when comic book superheroes were given real life problems, I was loving it. Reed Richards has no money to fund the Fantastic Four. Tony Stark has a weak heart. Peter Parker has so many problems, I won’t even go into them. More like real life, yes. But their refusal to crack under them is what made them heroes.

Sometimes archaeologists can’t figure out why a past historical society died out. When I was visiting the Yucatan, our Mayan guide said: “They’re always asking ‘What happened to the Maya?’ Well, nothing happened to us. We’re right here!” A moral collapse can happen that goes undocumented in the far past. It has probably happened. In the well documented past, the Romans struggled with both pre and post Christian problems of a moral nature. They’re gone too; although that’s what happens when you eat off of lead plates. The moral crisis is the main story of both society and the individual.

A personal crisis makes for fascinating story telling. But is it okay to chronicle major heroes so dark that they in fact become amoral? No. And I personally would not try to thus reinforce the collapse of our society. We’re close enough to the edge right now, thank you very much. You can certainly tell the story of a person falling, but don’t hold them up as the best that a human can manage in this tough world. Because that’s not being a Hero.

Likewise I’d ban the constant slasher style violence in the media that exists today. I spent my whole visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in a red rage. I wouldn’t think you’d have to be Jewish like I am to feel that way. I pretty much feel the same when I have to watch the mindless, inartistic, exploration of excess mayhem that proves only what our 21st Century film technology can do on the screen. Like pornography but even worse, it’s not acceptable to a mature society--which I wish we could become in the future. Its bad enough that we put the faces of smiling mass killers on the news, instead of instead shunning them by wiping out their names in public, and saving them for their court trials. Sure, give them what they want, when sometimes that’s the whole reason they do it! That makes sense—if you want to evolve a decadent, lost civilization.

Like Johnny Cash, you have to know how to walk the line. Should movies made for preteens and teens be made by people trying to pretend to be no more mature than they are? And no, Nazis and other hate groups should not be allowed to legally march or organize. Some say if you take away their freedom, ours is threatened. Well, living in Dodge City, where its open season on the average citizen is no fun either--speaking as one. I’ll be happy to draw the line, and legislate morality in committee, if you can’t do it yourself. For example: you’re not allowed to advocate genocide. Clear? And gun control--I’m all for it (although not in a place where that opinion will get me shot). I’ll save my anger over my personal liberty for those who try to forbid us having a Well Regulated Militia. Here in New York State, we actually still have a State Militia, the direct descendent of those fine old volunteer regiments that turned out during the Civil War! Join the National Guard, you gun lovers, and do something useful for a change. You can have your private gun. If you’re not a psycho, criminal, or hate monger. If you are—tough luck! Too much freedom might be just as bad as too little. How about that? The U.S. Constitution is sacred to me. But it’s a Sacred Working Document. Wrap your head around that.

In the meantime, authors, hands of my heroes! That voice of Good reminds me of where I want to be heading. If your Mythic Hero isn’t inspirational, you’re writing in the wrong genre. Or as we used to say in Gurdjieff School: “Remember Your Aim.” Where a human character can certainly fail morally, an Icon cannot. Because they have The Vision. Without it, they become something else.

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*I support the grammatically incorrect usage of ‘they’ for him or her; ‘theirs’ for his or hers. We should change the English language right now. Do it!
Total Comments 5


kolakoski's Avatar

"Scared" Working Document

Well met!

Thanks to certain recent Supreme Court decisions, I agree with that characterization.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 01:38 PM by kolakoski kolakoski is offline
EternalThanos86's Avatar
This is one of your best blogs posts. Clear, pointed and passionate.

I agree with you on the majority. Yet it can be so tough to keep bad people from taking advantage of stricter government controls. I don't want hate groups to have the right to organize, but that slope gets slippery so fast. Look at Rome, who went from a republic to a dictatorship within a generation or two. Granted, it worked well at first, but went sour with some bad apples.

The only perfect government structure would have to be a benevolent dictatorship, and since that isn't possible, the democratic republic is our next best option.

Oh, and what you said about heroes is right on. I hate evil-beyond-redemption heroes and anti-heroes.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 05:58 PM by EternalThanos86 EternalThanos86 is offline
MegaSilver's Avatar
I couldn't stop reading this one. Analogies are spot-on.
Posted January 27th, 2011 at 07:20 PM by MegaSilver MegaSilver is offline
Taeblewalker's Avatar
Good points. I still disagree with the right to march, for reasons we discussed, but I wholeheartedly agree that smiling serial killers should not get their photo spots on the front page.

And let Batman remain Batman!
Posted January 28th, 2011 at 02:12 PM by Taeblewalker Taeblewalker is online now
Lazy Orang's Avatar
While I may not agree with everything here 100% (a couple of the more trivial, fiction-based points rankle ever so slightly, though I'm not sure if that's entirely fair), this blog post may well be more relevant now than ever before. Well said, chas.
Posted November 25th, 2018 at 08:07 PM by Lazy Orang Lazy Orang is offline
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