Has The Role Of The Hero Changed In Society

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2002

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Has the role of the hero changed in society? Throughout history, the element of the hero has been used to propagate change. The story of Gilgamech and Ekidu of Sumaria is perhaps one of the first to teach the moral implications of Hubris. It seems, looking back, that history is full of people to look up to. People who we worship, people whose every word we hang on. People from Alexander the Great, who conquered all of Europe, to Winston Churchill who according to British propaganda, single handily saved the Western World from the terrors of Nazism. But where are the heroes now? Where are the Roosevelts, the Lincolns, the Maos even the Christs? Where have they gone? Have they disappeared, or have they simply faded into woodwork of current day society? It seems to me that yesterdays movers and shakers, those who affect the course of history, Joan of Arc, William Wallace, Ghandi, Caesar, Gorbachev, have all but become non-existent.

Like the dodo, yesterdays heroes and their role in society has given way to a new breed of champion. A champion that works without public idealism, but still goes mundanely about its duties to change history for better or worse.

Hercules, for example, who portrayed the physically heroic side of man, asserted his dominance over nature by strangling snakes and killing lions. Today, that role is filled by Tarzan, who is idolized by small children for doing the same. Masculinity nowadays has transferred itself from the demi-gods of the past, to grunting, sweating, swearing, padded men on fake grass. But unlike Hercules, these oafish cast-backs of the Neanderthalic age have not the proficiency if not the intelligence to shape the outcome of human destiny. Because of this, our mental niche reserved for hero worship has been appropriated by someone who has not the ability to live up to the role. This leaves the hero's job wide open for someone less "pretty".

A metaphor can be seen in our own immune system and how virus' attack and evade it. The surface antigens found on a virus identify it as itself. Once identified, the immune system labels the virus and acts accordingly. But, if the virus' antigen copies that of a cell within the body, the immune system will not recognize the virus. To it, it is merely another denizen of the body. Thus, the virus is left to its own little dastardly role within the body. Unrecognized, uncelebrated, it fulfills its destiny to the letter.

No, the role of the hero has not changes, only its appearances have. Our hero worship today, is based on the wrong type of man. Our "pseudo-heroes" are not heroes; they don't even come close to fitting the shoes innate with the role. All they are, are glory dogs out for the fame, fortune and limelight, ignoring all the work and social responsibilities inherited with the mantle. The true heroes today, are those who strive to change history, with or without the limelight, and it is our to our own loss that we don't recognize them for what they are.