It was with some reluctance that I took my son to see the latest Spiderman movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love the quality father-son time of a trip to the movies and my reluctance wasn't based around the violence, misogyny or any age-inappropriate material that might be in the film.
I was more concerned about the distraction of telling fictional stories of mythical heroes when our attention ought to be focussed on real-world problems and their solutions.
And it's not just the latest crop of superhero films. There must be something deeply ingrained in the human psyche that has always hankered for mystical heroes to solve to our problems for us. Something lurking deep in our brains that shackles us to the unrealistic answers to real threats that confront us.
We live in a time where there is no place for heroes. We do not have the luxury of time to create fictional heroes who vanquish non-existent foes in make-believe worlds. There are no heroic solutions to the real problems we face every day.
And there are many problems that we need to confront. The solutions to global climate change, over population, pollution, over use of resources, undersupply of energy and so will not include one white knight in shining armour riding out of the mists of mythology.
History is a long chronical of the actions of heroes. Of kings and emperors, admirals and generals who fought battles to save their nations and conquer foreign lands. This history is written by the heroes. But, when you scratch the surface and take another perspective, you often find that they were not heroes at all. The histories of the vanquished, of the conquered, of the disposed, cast other people’s heroes as the villains and merchants of evil.
Ultimately the key religious figures; gods and goddesses, mythical beasts and elemental forces were heroic figures able to intercede in world affairs for the betterment of humanity. Even in our supposedly enlightened modern world there are still those who place their faith in their mythical religious heroes to solve real-world problems. I think this is doubly dangerous; not only the danger in the fact that mythical entities can do nothing in the physical world, but such beliefs absolve the followers of responsibility for addressing and solving these problems. Isn't it time that we stood up and took responsibility for our actions?
I contend that we could all work collectively we could all work together to save the day. We can all become the heroes.
Most of the world’s problems are caused by lots of people doing a little bit wrong, often out of ignorance, sometimes out of malice, but mostly only minor interactions on a personal level iterated billions of times across the peoples of the world. So perhaps the heroes of today need to be every single one of us consciously doing something good, something right, something that will redress the problems that we face.
I did relent and we went off to see the movie, which we thoroughly enjoyed. A short escape from the woes of the world around us. Yes, it’s only entertainment. Yes, it is meant to be escapist. But we still need to keep our hero worship mentality in perspective. It’s one thing to have a short escape for a couple of hours in a darkened theatre but, inevitably, we have to return to the reality of day-light when movie comes to an end.