I have come to a realization within the past few years of my life; society is overly obsessed with heroes. No, I am not talking about the show (although the first season was pretty good). I am talking about the glorification of humanity when someone does the extraordinary. This is been a consistent fascination of mankind ever since the beginning of humanity. The Greeks had many mythological tales of men doing the impossible. Today there are comic books full of superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and many others that even adults can idolize. Societies of past and present have always looked up to social icons and the theme of heroism is weaved throughout every story told.
We all seek within ourselves the very strengths and values that are so dominant in heroes, including me. When reading, or watching these seemingly normal people do extraordinary things – I connect somewhere on a deeper, perhaps subconscious level. Every child wants to be like Superman; he can fly and has an awesome cape. Heroes appeal to our inner-most desires. Who would not want to be that great warrior with a legendary sword that defeats entire armies single-handedly and saves the world?
Which brings me to my next point: many heroic tales are that of one great person who stands out among a group, emphasizing the idea of superiority. Could it be that I value heroism not only because I wish I could be so “badass,” but because I all wish to be above the rest? Perhaps it isn’t a question of heroism as it is a question of significance. Who would not want a life of significance? It gives meaning and purpose. To be above the rest, super-human, that would offer the ability to do wondrous things.
But is it significance or mere vanity? Is it a cry for attention that I feel so drawn to heroic figures? To have the attention of the entire world, their admiration, their curiosity, their devotion, imagine the feeling that must be. Or better yet, imagine the power that must be. To be the hero that can take down armies and bend the world at will. To contain the power over mankind that others do not possess. Humanity is certainly known for its hunger of power. It is a never-ending thirst that plagues us.
I could continue to go on forever – pointing out the hundreds of various qualities that one could possibly associate with our fascination. However, as a whole, I believe that we idolize heroes because of desired individualism. In a world of six billion people spread out amongst thousands of cultures, inhabiting hundreds of countries, it is hard to be one among the many. Whether we were to stand out because of an ability, significance, or superiority, it is the idea of being an individual that draws us. Our fascination with heroes appeals to our desire to no longer just be a face in the crowd, but a figure of importance. Who wants to be a normal, boring human being? No one does. It is through these super hero stories and movies that we express our need to stand out. So perhaps the next time another stupid Marvel creation is jeered at, we can understand and appreciate the underlying concept.
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