This blog ain’t big enough for heroes

Where have all the movie heroes gone? Drawing social lessons from pop culture is a risky game, and so is pretending to know better than Hollywood execs what people will or will not pay money to see. James Bowman fails to convince me that the clean, inspiring heroes of classic Hollywood are gone, but I wouldn’t much miss them if they were. There is no such thing as a hero. There is such a thing as a heroic act, but the people who perform them are ordinary, and I would rather that everyone realize their own heroic (and villainous) potential, than believe this to be reserved a distinct kind of pious human. Nor are clean heroes particularly interesting as characters. One exception was Roj Blake in Terry Nation’s Blakes’ 7, because his heroism was contrasted with the more realistic world around him, and the ordinary selfishness and cowardice of his followers – his idealistic actions were often ineffectual or counterproductive. This is not to say that the solution is to be “dark and gritty”, a macho style for teenage boys that despite some original freshness is now a boring cliche. Show me real, flawed people doing good and bad things. Show me that regular, selfish, cowardly people like me can choose to do the right thing. Inspire me, if you like, but there’s nothing inspirational about Jesus Christ the son of God with a cowboy hat coming to town to clean out the garbage. Now Judas or Peter, there’s a character.

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