Monday, September 20, 2010

Heroes - Really?

The victors write the history books. I think the vast majority of us will agree with that. So what makes a hero? The motivation post got me thinking - Is hero worship a motivational force. Well, who do they “worship”? Let’s look at American heroes - but from a vantage point of if they had LOST.
George Washington - A favorite of mine when I want to infuriate someone - First - Washington was a “commoner” that many people of his time wanted to establish as King (of America). Therefore if the British had won the American Revolutionary War or the Minor Rebellion of 1776, Washington would be that commoner who tried to make himself king. He would also be the war criminal who broke every law of decency when he acted like a heathen and attacked a good Christian company of soldiers while they were observing the solemn holiday of Christmas. After his horrifying breech of the established armistice, he was promptly spanked and sent running back across the river. Let’s not forget the slave owning and the “funny” hemp growing.
Benjamin Franklin - an eccentric madman who invented a couple of clever contraptions, but nearly killed himself in his research on multiple occasions. Spent years as the French Court Jester in his silly fur garb. (always depicted like a white savage)
Nathan Bedford Forrest - Already a hero to some and villain to others. Was he the first Grand Wizard of the KKK or was he a military genius who might have won the Civil War for the Confederacy had he been given a chance.
Rosa Parks- - Some loony crab ass was arrested for causing a disruption on the bus. And then she would promptly be forgotten.
JFK - war hero and new hope for our nation (at that time) or philandering son of a rum runner who never accomplished anything in political office. A beautiful example of it all matters who is writing the history books and how they wish to portray someone.
Are these my opinions? No! at least not all of them. The point I am trying to make is NOT that these people had flaws, but instead it is only the way that we remember history that makes someone a hero or one of the forgotten masses. I think that has a huge impact on the ways heroes should be treated in fantasy worlds. It is less the feats accomplished then it is whether or not the song(s) about him are good tunes.
We could go on for days, but think about some of these guys who are typically remembered as villains, but were someone’s hero in their day: Hannibal, Napoleon, Rommel, Pete Rose, Jim Kelly (see you don’t remember - four consecutive Super Bowls, but no wins). Our apologies to Jim Kelly who has never been a villain to anyone, but is simply used to demonstrate what happens when you don’t get to write the history books.

1 comment:

  1. A good, and true, point on perception of heroism is often more important than heroism itself (think Jaynestown from Firefly).

    To further the discussion of the historical characters mentioned:

    I think you will find that Napoleon, as least, is still considered a hero by some (among the French perhaps) as the others may be as well.

    I do not think that Washington as King was pushed before the war was won, but in a world where he lost the war, he would likely be remembered as a poor general and an upstart.

    Why can not Forrest be both a military genius and the first Grand Wizard of the KKK? They are not mutually exclusive by any means.

    JFK's father was not a rum-runner, that has been extensively debunked, but still not a nice man.