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View Full Version : Hero Inflation (Bear with me on this one...)



JediCole
08-07-2002, 01:13 AM
I am sure we are all aware of the nine miners who were rescued against seemingly impossible odds and have gained that uncomfortable kind of celebrity embued upon those who capture the media attention for any length of time. Now the point of this thread is in no way intended to belittle the fortitude of these men. Or do dismiss they tragedy turned miracle that was the rescue effort and the collective sigh of relief breathed by a nation that had watched the drama unfold. No, rather the purpose of this thread is to address the title of "hero" that has become devalued by overuse in this country. Many of the miners have expressed sentiments of finding the term "hero" applied to them by none less than President Bush (amoung others) as being something they feel is unwarranted.

Why is this such an issue for me? Well, tonight on the evening news, the local stations broadcast airiel views of an unfolding tragedy, hovering about like the vultures they have become, moreso in recent years. In a Texas town, two men digging a trench for piping of some kind were accidentally burried, one narrowly escaping, the other not being so fortunate. When Mrs. JediCole and I switched on the news, this drama was already four hours old and hope was waning. By the time we determined to change the station, large white cloths were erected to block the news cameras' view (something I applaud), suggesting that the rescue had long since become a recovery effort.

What connects these two incidents is that recent touting of survivors of deadly tragedy as "heroes" because it has the effect of making survial by perseverance, ingenuity, and foremost a fair amount of luck praisworthy, yet suggests that the man who could not be rescued in the later incident is less noble. My concern here is that we can too easily laud surviors and inadvertanly vilify those who were not so lucky. Are those who cannot be rescued somehow less important than those who manage to be pulled from the jaws of death.

In the end I found that this unfortunate tragedy in Texas underscored the problem with the overuse or misuse of the term hero that makes even the would-be heroes feel unworthy of the title. I've heard the miners and others in interviews trying to articulate this condition, and this event seems to have done what words could not, it showed the opposite side of the coin, and demanded that the question be explored.

I hope that this post will help others look at this phenomenon of hero-labeling from a different angle.

Exhaust Port
08-07-2002, 01:38 AM
I agree, the hero term is thrown about a bit too generously at times. As with the boy who cried wolf, assigning that title as many times as they do has lessened it's impact. Nice going media!

DarthBrandon
08-07-2002, 02:03 AM
This, I think may be a touchy subject, but the term hero as I always believed is a person that shows great courage, an illustrious warrior, or a person admired for his/her achievements and noble qualities. These individuals probably showed great courage in the face of adversity, but are they admired for their achievements and noble qualities and last but not least are they warriors? The term hero should reflect the firemen and police officers, as well as the numerous reports of others that helped people during the 9/11 tragedies. Sure it must have taken great courage to stay alive, but was there one guy or two that did something heroic like hold up a beam or something so one of his buddies didn't die? I don't know, but for me all the men and women that gave their lives on 9/11 and in war should be given the term heroes. There is nothing heroic about survival, unless someone does something like give up his own life so that others may live. That's a hero in my books, the guy or gal that laid down his life, so that others may live. Every war that was fought has many unsung heroes, to use the term hero every time someone survives an accident or incident is taking away the value of the word itself.
That doesn't mean that one has to die to be a hero, but maybe put ones self in harms way for others. I survived a car accident when I was younger, that definitely does not make me a hero. The guy that stops and goes out of his way to pull an individual from a burning car is a hero from where I stand. The thousands of firemen and policemen that go out everyday and put themselves in harms way, or that one guy out of many that stops to help out a fallen human being while putting himself at risk is a hero. Just because you survive an incident does not make you a hero, it's what you did to survive that determines that. The guy that didn't make it should not be treated in any way different from the guy that did, that guy is lucky in my books and who knows if he (the guy that didn't make it) didn't push his pal to safety. There are many heroes that you never hear about, because most of the time it isn't used loosely. Anyways I hope I didn't offend anyone with this post, but it's just how I feel about the term hero. Sorry it was so long.:)

Jargo
08-07-2002, 08:07 AM
The other often over-used word is 'tragic'. New reports daily on death and tragedy but the term tragic is applied to people as in "tragic six year old girl dies in blaze horror" or something. All death is tragic by definition so the term is superfluous in that use. An incident or event is a tragedy or a death is tragic, the person isn't tragic which is what the use of the word that way implies - tragic six year old. So the six year old is tragic even before she dies in tragic circumstances?
But really there is way too much use of the word. The media clutches desperately at 'buzz' words that they know will invoke a gut reaction or emotional response. they use the words to sensationalise what would otherwise be a mindane everyday ocurance. People die every second of the day somewhere in the world. It's really only whether or not a tv crew can get there on time to film it happening that counts as to the newworthy nature of the event.

As far as Hero goes, it really is over-used. I get tired of hearing about 'have a go heros' on the news every time some jerk tackles a burglur and gets mashed up for his trouble. What's heroic about attempting to tackle a burglar who may or may not be carrying a gun or knife or some other weapon? It's stupidity to tackle a burglar.
As far as rescuers who think not of themselves but only of those in need of rescue goes, i would say hero is a usable term. A guy who enters a raging flooded river to rescue someone trapped in a car would be a hero in my eyes. it's an out of the ordinary act of courage that requires nerves of steel and a determination and surge of inner and outer strength to accomplish. I could never see myself performing such a courageous act odf unselfish nature. So i would call a rescuer like that a hero. It's really down to the individual to learn to deal with the term as best they can if it gets applied to them. As to the dead or non survivors not being heros - well they're d3ead aren't they so the matter isn't worth bothering with. Or more likely they survived and they go back to normal life.
There's always going to be someone held up for all to see as a hero. Society is constructed in such a way that we need heros to feel safe. The American way of life is constructed around heros, your whole culture is built on hero worship.
maybe that last statement will get me some flack but just take a moment to think about it seriously and look at what you have in the way of the media and film and television and military and industry. The whole system runs on hero worship.
Iconoclastic is the word i was just looking for. An iconoclastic image laden culture. A hero is just an icon - an idol to be worshipped. The American way is to follow, to have something to believe in. That's one of the reasons that religion is so prelevent in the USA, gota have something to believe in. If it's not god it's movie stars or real world heros.

We never had that over here until recent years. Now it's all heros here too. We just do it smaller than you do. :)

JediCole
08-07-2002, 10:56 AM
I am pleased to see some very insightful response. I empathize with those who prefaced thoughts with concerns that such thoughts would garner backlash. It is an unfortunate condition that most cannot seem to glean the real meaning in such thoughts expressed, instead concentrating on a single portion of such thoughts, taken out of context, as fodder to vilify the writer. But that is a post unto itself!

I hesitated to say this in the original post, deciding to wait and gague early response. When hearing some of the miners express sentiments that they found the status of hero was unbefitting of themselves and what they achieved, I was ironically reminded of one of my favorite episodes of "The Simpsons". Life imitates "art"...

The episode in question, which may have already popped into the minds of those overly familiar with the minutia of Springfield's favorite family started with a birthday party for Bart and culminated in a "boy down a well" hoax. At one point the family is watching news coverage of the "tragedy" and (I believe) Homer refers to the fictional boy, Timmy O'Toole, as a hero. Lisa remarks that falling down a well does not really make one a hero, to which Homer replies, "It's more than you did!"

It is sadly ironic that I felt like Lisa in this episode as I watched our President take on the mantle of an oafish Homer Simpson, dispensing plaudits and laurels of heroism at wholesale. The value of all terms as gone down, it is a buyers market. The first word I recall achieving a sharp decline in value in this country was "awesome". It seems that "tragic" and "heroic", and thier requisite forms, have also suffered from devaluation by mass-production.

JEDIpartner
08-07-2002, 11:17 AM
There should be another word rather than "hero"... I think the heroes were the rescuers who risked their lives to SAVE the men... not really the men inside. Yes... they DID have fortitude and that spirit, but I think "hero" is an inappropriate moniker for those "brave men". Yes... "tragic" IS another overused word. With all of the allegedly "tragic" things that happen every day, we should all be walking around, back of hand on forehead and looking to the sky like a bunch of drama queens.

Jargo
08-07-2002, 10:04 PM
With all of the allegedly "tragic" things that happen every day, we should all be walking around, back of hand on forehead and looking to the sky like a bunch of drama queens.
And that would be a bad thing would it, so I should stop walking round like that now should I dale...? :zzz:




:p

darthvyn
08-08-2002, 12:47 PM
Originally posted by EMPEROR JARGO


We never had that over here until recent years. Now it's all heros here too. We just do it smaller than you do. :)

well, your country's smaller than ours! :p



Originally posted by JediCole
I am pleased to see some very insightful response. I empathize with those who prefaced thoughts with concerns that such thoughts would garner backlash. It is an unfortunate condition that most cannot seem to glean the real meaning in such thoughts expressed, instead concentrating on a single portion of such thoughts, taken out of context, as fodder to vilify the writer. But that is a post unto itself!

I hesitated to say this in the original post, deciding to wait and gague early response. When hearing some of the miners express sentiments that they found the status of hero was unbefitting of themselves and what they achieved, I was ironically reminded of one of my favorite episodes of "The Simpsons". Life imitates "art"...

The episode in question, which may have already popped into the minds of those overly familiar with the minutia of Springfield's favorite family started with a birthday party for Bart and culminated in a "boy down a well" hoax. At one point the family is watching news coverage of the "tragedy" and (I believe) Homer refers to the fictional boy, Timmy O'Toole, as a hero. Lisa remarks that falling down a well does not really make one a hero, to which Homer replies, "It's more than you did!"

It is sadly ironic that I felt like Lisa in this episode as I watched our President take on the mantle of an oafish Homer Simpson, dispensing plaudits and laurels of heroism at wholesale. The value of all terms as gone down, it is a buyers market. The first word I recall achieving a sharp decline in value in this country was "awesome". It seems that "tragic" and "heroic", and thier requisite forms, have also suffered from devaluation by mass-production.

while i see it as more of an "art imitates life, which then imitates itself" thing, i do agree that the simpsons is some of the greatest social commentary around these days.

i think the distinction between the survivors being heroes, and the fallen being somehow seen as failures is a personal thing. i feel that anyone in a situation such as these, in either outcome, is worthy of praise. not necessarily a "hero" title, but i don't think we should just ignore it.

to me, a hero is anyone who makes a choice to go into an adverse situation, not unwittingly stumbles into it.

yes, there are many people who deserve some sort of recognition for a harrowing experience, but they aren't necessarily heroes.

vulcantouch
08-09-2002, 01:28 PM
. . .(and let's not even get into his anti-semitism), his remark about a hero being "someone who does something others can't or won't" does seem to apply here.
remember when jay leno used to be a hilarious stand-up instead of a mediocre late-night host? one of his jokes from back then, about the girl who fell down a wellshaft:
"after they rescued her president bush remarked, 'Only In America, when this kind of thing happens, do people rally round to help'. yeah- i'm sure the Swiss woulda let her DIE! (imitiates stern swiss accent: ) 'is not cost-effective to save the child! only foolish sentimental americans would save a little girl trapped in well!" :D
vt

Jargo
08-09-2002, 03:36 PM
Pardon the ignorance, but you'd think by now that all this well falling into sort of behaviour would have stopped. How many years is it that America has been a developing country....? ;)


Seriously, there ought to be some sort of education program instigated to teach the idiots who dig a well and leave it uncovered enough that a child can fall down it, how to do the job correctly.
And how to shore up a mine shaft correctly.
And forest fires all over the place - what kind of idiot leaves a forest near combustible substances? SHEESH!! :rolleyes:

JEDIpartner
08-09-2002, 04:34 PM
Originally posted by vulcantouch
. . .one of his jokes from back then, about the girl who fell down a wellshaft:
"after they rescued her president bush remarked, 'Only In America, when this kind of thing happens, do people rally round to help'.[/i]" :D
vt

That would have been "Baby Jessica". I was so sick of that crap. Just let me know when they get her out or if they do. Stop interrupting my life because some urinate-poor excuse for a parent didn't keep an eye on her little kid!


Originally posted by Emperor Jargo
And that would be a bad thing would it, so I should stop walking round like that now should I dale...?

Oh, no... you're just fine, Jargo, me lurrrve. Just keep doing what you feel! ;)