|Subject:||Joe Schmuck: Chapter 1 - 01/07|
|Date:||Sat, 13 May 2000 01:29:57 GMT|
Heroes are a growth industry. Everybody alternates between needing a hero and
wanting to be a hero. Not all the time of course, that would just be
unworkable. No, heroes and heroics are generally only needed for special
occasions. Much like a birthday cake or a tuxedo.
The problem is that in today's society the need for a hero or a heroine has
gotten a little out of control. The public's desire and appetite for noble and
courageous deeds have fueled a growth rate that would normally be associated
with rabbits rather than heroes. These heroes take their strength and virility
from the hearts and minds of normal everyday people, and are born ready to
spread their uncompromising beliefs like a social disease.
Their actions are unquestionable, their purity unrivaled. Heroes stand tall
because that's how we make them. David, Hercules, and Jason, all heroes that
have been around for centuries, outliving the very cultures that created them.
Superman, Batman, and Michael Jordan, hell even anorexic teenage models can
become heroines simply be adding the prefix 'super'. Yes, a hero is all that
is good, all that is right. You can't escape them.
You'll find their smiling faces on the cover of every magazine, and if you buy
it you can see glimpses of their perfect lives filling in the spaces between
the ads. Their stories, both real and imagined, are condensed into neat little
packages, which are then broadcast straight into your lives. Yes, heroes
courageously fill in the half-hour and hour-long programming slots as needed,
spreading the gospel. Their images stand 30 ft tall on billboards around the
world, reminding us to be perfect pretty people, while selling us the right
deodorant. Yes heroes are everywhere, and absolutely unrelenting in their holy
pursuit of market share.
Perhaps I'm being a little unfair. It would certainly be a reasonable argument
to say that we would buy those movie tickets and those happy meals anyway. And
surely advertising would still exist if heroes weren't around. Heroes and the
products we use and consume are still linked, but maybe it's more a case of the
merchandising supporting the hero, rather than the hero supporting the
merchandise. It's a vast and complex infrastructure that is required to
deliver perfect and heroic lives to all that need to see them. By sticking the
heroes on tubes of toothpaste and pre-packaged convenience meals we just makes
it easier and cheaper for people to connect with values and beliefs they can't
otherwise maintain. I'm sure the ancient Greeks still needed clay pots before
some guy came up with the idea of a Trojan War series of collectibles.
Certainly in these cynical times many of the new heroes are created for
material purposes, but it wasn't always the case. Many of the original heroes
were created to fulfill spiritual needs. However one of the originals, hugely
successful with worshipers around the world, has been used to sell crusades,
books, T-shirts, even immediate salvation for those with a major credit card
and a willingness to touch the screen.
I'm not saying this is necessarily wrong, as long as people are still getting
what they need in a strong enough dose. My concern is that perhaps this need
to connect with something or someone that is pure, strong, righteous, loved and
accepted, isn't always being delivered by the new breed of copyright-protected
hero. I think many of these new heroes are being used to sell promises of
spiritual enrichment that are then ignored. Too many products with too weak a
dose of fulfillment, all just serving to increase our appetite, need and
Constantly fed the stories and images, sold items we don't need because we buy
into the hype and the hope, it shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone that
Joseph Staples failed to take the rational course of action.