What happened to heroes?
Robin Hood fights Prince John. He robs from the rich and gives to the poor. All that ends when the proper ruler, King Richard, returns. Now that leadership is in the right hands, all will be well.
Dragnet. The good guys are the cops, right?
Batman before, say, 1970. He worked with the police. Commissioner Gordon led a group of police that, at least in general, were good people.
Before the late 1970’s, people in authority were generally the good guys. If someone in authority was a bad guy, they were obviously corrupt. Once you got the right person back in authority, all would be well.
Ah, but after the 1970’s, the good guys were almost always the rebels. Try to think of some sort of entertainment in the last 50 years that showed the good guys being the ones in charge. Star Wars: The good guys are rebels. Star Trek: It’s kind of a running gag that every admiral in Starfleet was either corrupt or inept (not in the original show, but in almost all the sequel series). How many times has James Bond had to go rogue to see justice done?
In modern superhero movies, the main characters often aren’t shining examples of great morals. They don’t do the right thing just to do the right thing. At the least, they’re self-conflicted to an extreme.
I read recently that many women prefer the main characters from Lord of the Rings because they felt safe. They didn’t need to fear the main characters abusing them.
At some point,our culture has become so jaded that we can’t imagine a hero who is actually good. Superman? He’s the big blue boyscout. If he’s always good, he must be boring. Get rid of him. We can’t imagine the good guys being in charge. The Jedi Council? Inept at best.
I think part of it is that our culture is “growing up.” Many teens go through a period where things that are happy are lame. I went through it. The first time I saw Fellowship of the Ring I hated anything that wasn’t serious. Good things aren’t funny. They’re dour!
Part of that “growing up” also manifests in a suspicion of any authority. They’re not good. They’re lame.
You see that in the treatment of Luke Skywalker in the sequel trilogy. He can’t be a good hero. Gotta have him fall and get all surly!
I’m hoping that this part of our culture finishes growing up and realizes that heroes can be good. Sure, you can still be realistic. No one’s perfect. Still, I’d rather cheer on Aragorn and Frodo than many of the tortured heroes that are paraded around today.
Maybe it’s one reason I enjoyed writing Madelyn of the Sky so much. Madelyn isn’t perfect. She struggles in many ways. Still, her goal is to do what’s right. She revels in protecting those who need her help. She’s pretty quick-witted and great with a sword. In other words, she’s a hero.
It’s good to have a hero actually be, you know, heroic.
(By the way, the Kickstarter Campaign for Madelyn starts Tuesday!)