Everybody's Heroes
May 7, 2003 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Heroes Are Only A Letter Away From Herpes: You catch them and you keep them and they more or less follow you through life. But heroes are good for us. Anyway, I came across this neat little exercise by Phespirit and perhaps because I share more than a few of his heroes - like Mark E. Smith [ get his font here!] and Peter Cook [A little taste here!] - it got me thinking: to what extent do our heroes, as they change or remain steadfast over the years, help define our personality? Are they who we'd like to be or be like or just be with?
posted by MiguelCardoso (30 comments total)
You're my hero, Miguel, so I can't make a coherent response in this thread, what with being star-struck and all.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:02 PM on May 7, 2003

He's my hero, not yours, you poser!
posted by UncleFes at 2:06 PM on May 7, 2003

But if I had to pick someone to run second behind Miguel, it'd probably be L. Rust Hills. Followed by James Bond.

I do admire William Tecumseh Sherman a bit. Anyone named "...the most hated and despised man in the history of Georgia" is aces in my book.

Apparently, I'm an anachronism.
posted by UncleFes at 2:22 PM on May 7, 2003

to what extent do our heroes, as they change or remain steadfast over the years, help define our personality?

Heroes, thinking about this the other night. Whom were the heroes for our parents & their parents & so on? Thinking the hero thing sprung up more as cities grew & families became separated from each other. I'm a lot like my dad who I rarely see, yet my step-adopted father is my hero. My hero and I share ethics and my/his brothers/sons.
A role model I could see being someone outside of your family.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:29 PM on May 7, 2003

i have a lot of problems with the concept of "hero" in our culture -- though in light of world situations it's easier for me to believe that the concept of a hero still has meaning. for me, a hero needs to do something to save the world or better humanity, and in some ways the concept of hero has been coopted by the concept of celebrities. there are people i admire tremendously as artists, whose work is brave and innovative, but the way they get sucked into the star-maker machinery makes me loath to identify, say, hal hartley or jeff tweedy as my heroes, in spite of the fact that they have made art that has helped me muddle through my own difficult existence. but i would also feel awkward identifying richard feynman as a hero in spite of his work on the manhattan project because of his interest in the crasser parts of life.

when someone says 'hero' to me i think of people who are pious and don't need publicity, and who are happy to work in nothing conditions if it means they can further the common good. doctors without borders or voices of the faithful are heroes to me as a result. (or, if i'm a smartass, i'm inclined to say that a hero is a sandwich. ^_^)

of course, i make things myself, so what does this rigid definition of heroism say about me.

uncle mig and others: how do you identify heroes, and how do you justify including people like mark e. smith and spike milligan? i'm not asking defensively as curiously.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:58 PM on May 7, 2003

internet - ah - portugese-uh - CIGAR SMOKE uh -
-typing -ah -lazily -uh - cannot evade thought police uh!
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:02 PM on May 7, 2003

You shame me, pxe2000, since your conception of a hero is so much loftier and truer than mine. I meant hero not in the sense of heroism but in the sense of admiration or fandom - someone one really, really likes, without necessarily looking up to.

Could it be an Anglo-American difference? Real heroes don't really exist anymore in Europe - perhaps people feel it's faintly ridiculous and too earnest to worship or be awestruck - though they certainly seem to exist in America. Our heroes always have a touch of failure and vulnerability to them. Perhaps they're just anti-heroes we think are very talented or make us laugh, dance, swoon...?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:07 PM on May 7, 2003

miguel - uh - prayed - ah - but - uh - st vitus - uh -could not -ah - stop -ah - typing - uh !
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:24 PM on May 7, 2003

be your own hero!
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:33 PM on May 7, 2003

I've several heroes: people I respect for having been at extraordinary times and places and doing extraordinary things--things almost beyond compare.

A general who worked for MacArthur, a British soldier who fought in the Burma Campaign, an American soldier who fought in North Africa, a boy of 17 who fought against the Russian invaders in Czechoslovakia in 1968, a Cambodian teacher who survived the Killing Fields (with his entire family!) An ex-slave from northwest Africa who escaped across 200 miles of desert.

And yes, these *are* heroes who stand alone as individuals, *not* part of any group effort. Whose own, personal character was what mattered. Non-conformists and outsiders, who do not brag, but who also do not share their heroism with hangers-on and the "group."

There are no socialist heroes.
posted by kablam at 3:37 PM on May 7, 2003

I'm afraid he lost me when he managed to count Mark E Smith and Hong Kong Phooey Cantona in the same list. Mutually exclusive surely - ah.
posted by squealy at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2003

My heroes are all teachers:

--In sixth grade, the teacher who recognized and encouraged my interest in computers.

--In ninth grade, the algebra teacher who gave me the confidence to continue working with computers, even though my fellow students viewed me as a freak.

--In eleventh grade, the teacher who encouraged me to learn to sing.

These three events had a MAJOR, and wholly positive, impact on the way my life was shaped, as much influence as nearly anything my parents taught me.

Which is why it infuriates me that professional athletes get paid millions and teachers get squat for the most part.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:44 PM on May 7, 2003

Our heroes always have a touch of failure and vulnerability to them.

Doesn't everyone share the same shoes, feet of clay?
posted by thomcatspike at 3:50 PM on May 7, 2003

Eat yerself fitter...
posted by i_cola at 3:55 PM on May 7, 2003

Bobby Lee
posted by woil at 3:56 PM on May 7, 2003

there's a great bit in the book about the making of the film dune where kyle maclachlan, this kid in community theatre in the northwest, recalls reading that the de laurentiis company, makers of such class fare as conan the barbarian and clash of the titans, having finally hired david lynch of all people, are moving forward on the film dune that they've had the rights to for years.

he's excited because since he was a teenager, he's considered paul atreides his hero. "whenever i found myself in a difficult situation, i would ask myself, 'what would paul do?' " [!!!] so he can't wait to see the movie, which different companies had tried to make during the 70s but never gotten off the ground. and as a lark he gets up the nerve to write a cover letter to lynch and the producer [dino de laurentiis' daughter rafealla], saying he's a huge fan of the book, and encloses his head shot.

next thing he knows, he's talking with lynch about lynch's conception of paul atreides, in preparation for a screen test. "this movie's never gonna work" maclachlan thinks to himself, after talking to lynch, but he gives the reading his all.

it made me wonder: did maclachlan ask himself, as he was sitting down to talk to the director, "how would paul make a good impression on this guy? how would he try to get the part?"


wolfdaddy: those who can't have heroes, have teachers for heroes.
posted by mitchel at 4:24 PM on May 7, 2003

For a moment, I thought this was further evidence that Miguel is NOT from Portugal: I lived for a couple of years next door to a rather fine coffee and sandwich shop in Oxford, called Heroes. Some wacky student had climbed up onto the canopy and painted a stalk onto the 'o' such that it read 'Herpes Sandwiches'. Oh, how I laughed every time I left the house.
Funnily this was situated just off Turl Street - someone (the Heroes joker? Who knows) had adapted the 'L' such that it became a D. Life in those days was just one big comedy sketch.
The seat of learning, indeed.

Back to the subject, I have no heroes at all and never have done. I admire certain aspects of people's character, sure, and I admire certain people's talent in some areas, but I've never understood AT ALL the concept of hero worship. Why do we as a species need to have someone, as far as we're concerned, BETTER than us? Why can't we embrace who we actually are and leave it at passive admiration? Or is that what having a hero actually is, and I just call it a different name?
posted by nylon at 5:40 PM on May 7, 2003

Nylon: Ah, Turl street...

Last week, some Brazilian wag adapted the roadsign for Lisbon's most famous monument, the Torre de Belém (Bethlehem Tower), to honour his hero. It now reads "Torre de Pelé."
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:50 PM on May 7, 2003

mig -- it's not that i have lofty aspirations vis-a-vis heroicism. i get worried when i see myself investing a lot of energy in liking someone i may never meet, based on criteria that could be incredibly superficial and not based in any fact apart from a publicist's fever dream. if i'm going to invest energy in anything, i want it to be worth something and based on something real, you know?

or maybe i'm putting too much thought into these things...
posted by pxe2000 at 6:57 PM on May 7, 2003

"Kids, we don't use words like 'hero' and 'genius' in this house."

This is the REAL reason that there are no socialist heroes.

But I gotta say, kablam, I take a bit of issue with the idea that a hero is someone who doesn't share their effort with the group, as you put it. There are many different ways to pull off the impossible, to stand in the face of incredible odds. Sometimes a people can be as hard and unforgiving as a mountain... No socialist heroes, eh? How about Emma Goldman, whose voice was essentially the beginning of American feminism, and who also worked with her lover in an attempt to assassinate the head of the Pullman company as he used military force against an oppressed and striking workforce? Or what about Ghandi? MLK? They were certainly working publicly and on behalf of a people.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:05 AM on May 8, 2003

Here's some of the dirt on Emma Goldman. She's one of the leading figures ina period of American history that is often glossed over or completely ignored by the high school text books. A period when entire cities, such as St. Louis and Seattle, were known to turn Socialist, requiring federal forces to reinstitute the old hierarchical government. A period when a huge political movement was destroyed by the government in power via the Espionage Act, which imprisoned the political leadership of the counter-culture. Not that any of this is relevant today, of course.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:15 AM on May 8, 2003

Oops. link here.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:17 AM on May 8, 2003

Christ! Badness all around. link here.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:19 AM on May 8, 2003

When I was a kid, O.J. Simpson was my hero. Nobody ever looked better in slo-mo "NFL Films" than No. 32. Anything interesting happen with hims since I've been out of the country? ;-)
posted by planetkyoto at 1:42 AM on May 8, 2003

Here's that link, kaibutsu. Looks like Emma Goldman is resisting publicity from the grave.

Great comment, btw!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:59 AM on May 8, 2003

There are no socialist heroes.

Rubbish. The propogation of socialism was a heroic act.


Aneurin Bevan.

Would find more links but I have to work.
posted by Summer at 3:04 AM on May 8, 2003

could i just mention that the fall are in session on john peel this month and are releasing a new album ?


ah well.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:32 AM on May 8, 2003

I agree completely with Nylon; I've never understood the general propensity for idolising people, especially celebrities whose only virtues are often that they're pretty and lucky. Sure, I have a great deal of respect for a lot of people - but do I want to model my life on theirs? No.

And Mark E. Smith is a curmudgeon of the highest order.
posted by cell at 3:52 AM on May 8, 2003

mark e smith = postroad with a microphone.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:26 AM on May 8, 2003

posted by clavdivs at 8:13 AM on May 8, 2003

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