Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kill your heroes.

Up, Up, and Away!
You remember that time when you were a kid, the time where the world was ruled by titans? Mine was Superman. There was no light that shone brighter than the S on that shield. He was everything that was good in the world, incorruptible, fought for what was right. Stood for truth, justice, and the American way. As the years progressed, my heroes had to fit my interests. But Superman was always there. He was the guy I pretended to be as a kid, he was the guy that made me believe that you have to protect the little guy, he was in every sense of the word; a super man.

And then they killed him.

My brain couldn't fathom this. How can you kill off Superman? Let alone without even using kryptonite? This is where I learned that how I feel about a hero is not how others see him.

This was important.


Superman came back, but his shield was tarnished, he seemed diminished in stature. Also they did this whole Red and Blue nonsense and had about fifty dopplegangers running about.

It seemed like it was time to move on. It was time to try the heroes that influence me on a personal level. Bruce Lee became my guide through my high school years. His ability to do what he set his mind out to do, to overcome any obstacle in his way, to do what he did best, and to do it better than anyone else. Well, that's my kinda crazy.

Now this hero was perfect. There was only one Bruce Lee, you couldn't slap a suit on him and call him Bruce Li. Well, you could, but we'd know it was a lie.

It's a Lie! I mean, a Li.
But as much as I loved the guy, as much as every single story, candid and heard second hand (I knew a guy who trained with Bruce, I gushed all over him), motivated me to be a better me. The fact of the matter is, Bruce couldn't grow. He was a fixed point in time there would be no new stories, there would be no new movie. I could appreciate the life and times of Bruce Lee, but I could learn nothing new. I needed more heroes.
He broke the mold, then he took down the mold factory.
I garnered literary heroes for my writing. Whitman, Poe, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Frost, and Twain just to name a few. But alas, fell to the same traps. Not one of them contemporary. All dead, legends, but dead.
Their pen much mightier than mine.
Not that I ever withheld from contemporary heroes, it just seemed that the death rattle of the 20th century was severely lacking in that category. But I found a couple, here and there. And for a time, it worked, and what's more? I was able to approach them! For the first time, I was able to meet my heroes! This was so important.

The future is... sexy?

With the advent of the social networking, the gap between fan and person of said fan's focus was closing to a forum post away. Finally, I don't have to speculate what "Joe or Jane Famous" (no relation) is thinking, they're blogging about it! Screw the director's commentary! There's a podcast of every step of the process.

The curtain has been pulled back! The wizard has been revealed! Huzzah!

Um... Why is Mr. Wizard (not that one, at least I don't think) sans pants? And when did he get all racist and think it's funny to bag on the opposite gender like it's his job?

It turns out, your heroes, were heroes the same way Superman was my hero. They were fictional characters. Of course the difference is, Superman had no control on who was guiding him, these douchetards do/did, and they went head first into their exposure.

Fictional Character Alert!
And oh, how the emperors' new clothes look just about right on them. All of a sudden, things begin to fall into place. The questions about their character, the way they wrote, the way they acted, the way they seemed to behave but fooled yourself it was all part of an act.

What do you do when Superman doesn't come save you? This is important.

This is important too.
I found myself, for the first time in my life, let down by a hero. Not through a fault of a super villain, or some bit of information that was just uncovered under The Cat in the Hat's hat (Turns out, Dr. Seuss? Cheated on his wife while she was dying of cancer? You believe that shit? Look it up!); but because they took off their super hero costume, and instead of being a mild mannered reporter, they were anything but mild mannered.

Sadly, you find out the hard way that they are flawed, like the rest of us, only more so, because their flaws are so blatant, in the limelight, and they seem to show no wherewithal that they care at all. And you are left with posters, action figures (or inaction ones), DVDs (because you were a fan before blu-ray and already have them signed), and books; watching the Daily Planet globe broken into pieces on the street below. Wondering what to do next. Well, this is what you do. And this is important. You've got to kill your heroes.

Now, I'm not saying to go Mark David Chapman on anyone, I'm obviously talking metaphorically. Kill the ideology that you have built around your hero. The idea that they are anything but human and therefore flawed. And most importantly, don't hate yourself for being absolutely wrong about this person. You are in good company.Ulysses S. Grant, one of the greatest strategic minds in history; the man, who as general, defeated the  Confederacy. A man, who as president for two terms, stabilized the United States after the Civil War. This incredible person, this man among man, was swindled out of all of his money by a guy who ran off to China, probably looking to build a monorail.
Grant was Ogdenville in this scenario.
If Grant could be fooled about a person's character, so can you, cause you are no Grant, and granted, neither am I.

So who do we look to, when the clouds roll in and the rays of light flicker out, our parents? Do we kill them as well, metaphor still holding?  Here's the thing, there are some people that are exactly as spectacular as they seem. I hear that about Tom Hanks, I have yet to hear a bad thing about Mother Theresa, Joss Whedon is awesome, I can say this because I met him all of one time, but everyone in the world seems to agree with me. But stay those monument building hands. As Joss once wrote in a series called Firefly. "It's my estimation that every man that ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another."
...his eyes keep following me.
With the bodies of all these heroes around me, hearts freshly removed (hey, they took mine first). I really had no idea what to do. And then I heard it. A low trumpet, a building fanfare, a song that gives me tingles, a song that as a kid I associated with the feeling of being able to fly. And I saw him, the son of Krypton, not held to whatever standard that makes the most money. But held to the ideas that I saw in him from the beginning. The hero I knew, the hero, that it turns out, they can't take away from me. Not because he's Superman, but because it's who I want Superman to be. It's how I want to be. I want to have his stance on always doing what's right. I want to have Bruce Lee's tenacity, I want to create worlds that these writers, filmmakers, and artists do, but my worlds. "All of them better worlds."

See what I did there?

So have your heroes, but realize eventually (not every time), you'll have to kill them. Because they should hold to the standards that they claim to have, and if they don't, take the best they have to offer, and be the hero you saw in them. Because that is what's important.