No More Heroes

Over a month ago now, I read an article in the Metro that disturbed me greatly. Sky.com had conducted a poll of some two thousands Britons asking them to vote for their ‘ultimate hero’ and ‘ultimate heroine’. This isn’t disturbing in and of itself, but the results of the poll are a sad indication of what the word ‘hero’ has come to mean to us.

Not having an Oxford set to hand, I’ll point you to Dictionary.com for their definition of “hero”. Definition 2 is very telling and is, to my way of thinking, a good indication of what the word “hero” conjures up in the modern mind. “A person who… is regarded as a model or ideal…” And so Sky.com gives us the first people that spring to mind when the Great British Public think of a hero.

The top hero and heroine I can generally understand. Churchill led our country through a war that our entire way of life hinged on, and even though I have a personal contempt for Lady Diana Spencer, I can understand what she means to many people and why. What scares me about the results of this poll, however, is the driving force behind the rest of the poll winners.

The most stark example here is Amy Winehouse, number 2 on the general poll and number 1 for the under 25s. She’s not performed any noble deeds, so that leaves the old-fashioned definition of a hero out and brings us back to “a model or ideal”. Fantastic singer though she is, she’s a drug-addled mess and she’s not won the battle against her own mind. This YouTube video (and, I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart) is proof enough if you need it. Yes, she and Pete Docherty posted that themselves. And this train wreck is worth emulating in the eyes of the poll’s respondents…

Even the more innocuous entries seem to be there more because they’re famous than because of their admirable achievements. Elvis Presley? One of my favourite singers and a nice bloke by all accounts, but not a paragon of any massively heroic quality. Marilyn Monroe is there, too, and, iconic though she is, her life was something of a tragedy. I’ll give her my sympathy, sure, but I wouldn’t call her a “hero”.

If you want compelling evidence that real heroism has gone out of the window in favour of the pursuit of celebrity limelight, I give you Coleen McLoughlin and her place on the chart from the under 25s. All she is is a footballer’s girlfriend. And I couldn’t even tell you which footballer off the top of my head.

If the ideal of society is to pursue fame and an easy life, then this poll really does reflect modern society’s heroes. And if getting our faces recognised is the only endeavour worth lauding, then I pray for a swift end for all of us.

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~ by Scary Rob on 26 May, 2008.

One Response to “No More Heroes”

  1. Ow. That’s a bad set of heroes. My hero is Thor Heyerdahl, if you know who that is. Well, they said he was crazy, but he was right… 😉

    Footballer’s wives are heroines! Look at how many dirty football clothes they have to wash for their hubbies! And how often they have to go out into the public in flimsy little dresses and risk a cold! These women are matryrs! XD

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