Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Our heroes

I have a problem with heroes sometimes.  Last week I watched Fast and Furious 6, and while I got the ridiculous driving and fighting scenes I expected, I also got a taste of heroism that left me troubled.  Part of the film involves the villain getting captured right after he murders 100 or so random people.  Then he reveals that his henchmen have captured the hero's sister, so the hero insists that the villain be set free, and given a terrible weapon that could kill millions.

Of course in the movie the villain drives away, is intercepted by the heroes, and eventually dies, saving the damsel in distress.  During the escape one of the heroes perishes, and so do ten or so other people.

To me this is the opposite of heroism.  The movie is fluff, but it tries to place the hero's devotion to his family as a good thing, and him as a rogue with a heart of gold.  To me heroic actions are not ones where the hero causes mass carnage to all kinds of random people to save one person the hero cares about - that is just being self centred.  Letting a mass murderer loose with a terrifying weapon so you can chase them down personally makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.  A real hero puts themselves at risk to save others, rather than putting others at risk to save themselves.

Sure, Fast and Furious movies are hardly real life.  But they do speak to how people think, and the way that they portray heroes is disturbing when I think of things like the gun control debate that rages right now, and which reignites after every mass shooting event.

People make it clear that they want guns, and they want to have them so that they personally can defend their loved ones.  They aren't concerned with the fact that having a gun makes them far more likely to die, and that their loved ones are in much more danger with a gun around.  They aren't concerned about the collateral damage and the risk.  They just want to be the hero with the gun.

We would be far better served by heroes who accept that they shouldn't be the ones pulling the trigger.  By heroes who place the lives of other faceless people above their own when the risk to those other people is much greater.

Self sacrifice is heroic.  Sacrificing others is not.  I wish the heroes we got to see on the big screen and elsewhere more clearly followed that ideal.

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