Why The “Hero” Narrative Needs to Stop
Do we need another messiah?
Let me (re)introduce you to the hero of literature and fiction—the quasi-human we’ve been taught and trained to look for. He (because he’s usually a he) is strong, intelligent, driven and will stop at nothing to obtain the ultimate goal. There’s a villain to be conquered; there’s a wrong to right.
In realistic and modern times, this doesn’t mean a Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks who will move masses to exterminate discrimination. It doesn’t mean Harry Potter defeating those who can essentially be called bosses before battling it out with the magic world’s number one foe. I think what everyone’s looking for now is some sort of messiah that can save us from our current state, an individual who will figure out how to save a seemingly sinking ship.
Many of us have found solace in the public officials who have stepped up to the plate, who have innovated and pivoted their priorities to benefit the masses, who have made good on their promises. There are those of us who have found relief in the individuals and companies who did what they could in their capacity to alleviate some of the pressure, stress and anxiety that rose from this situation. Are these what our heroes look like now? Perhaps—and thank god for them.
I am very well aware of the fact that shit would have seriously hit the fan if not for the everyday people, companies and government officials that rose to the occasion. In today’s messed up world, they are our heroes. Do we need them? Yes. Should we glorify them? Well, they definitely deserve the praise. But should we put the weight of all our troubles on them? Absolutely not.
The trouble with our understanding of a hero narrative is that the hero is our solution, that their defining moment will put everything into place and that all will be well in the world when it happens. And this is exactly why the story needs to be edited; we need to understand that there are supporting roles that need to be played out, too—and played out well.
Those supporting roles, my friends, are ours to carry out. We are the backbone of our collective story because no hero, no matter how heroic (or beautiful), will be enough to save us entirely. They can employ us and organize feeding programs, but they cannot change the way we live our lives. And isn’t the way we’re living ultimately the root of all our problems?
Look, I am all for voting for the right person to sit in office, I am for spreading the fund raisers of celebrities, and I am all for kissing the asses of the companies whose advocacies make a real difference. But you know who else I’m for? I’m for the father that teaches his sons to respect women and the mother who teaches her daughters that she is stronger than the world wants to make her feel. I support police officers who refuse to take bribes and the drivers who take their tickets without even reaching for their wallets. I am for the cashier who admits giving the wrong amount of change and I am for anyone who tries to do the kind thing, no matter how much it inconveniences them.
These are the types of people I want to see and come across and be proud of and introduce to the next generation. So you can keep your heroes, as long as you give me one hell of a supporting cast.
Art Alexandra Lara