Friday, February 24, 2017

Heroes. We Keep Using that Word...

Here it comes. My obligatory Milo post. The Internet is full of them. Here are a few of my favorites that I think cover the situation very well. If your first inclination is to run away screaming, you probably need to read at least a a couple before moving on to the rest of the blog.

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To start, one of the the more level-headed articles from Dystopic. A good summary of facts, including the actual video. A short piece from John C. Wright is a good companion because it explains more about the mechanics of the editing that was done to the original source. (More from Wright below).

Here are a couple of posts talking about the wider implications, for those who care about the culture war (less level-headed, but on point):

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance
Brian Neimeier

Still don't care? Sarah Hoyt tells you why you should.

Finally, Moira Greyland Peat offers a unique perspective. A hard one to read because of the subject matter, but necessary.

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Assuming you're still here, a few thoughts that have been bouncing around my head for, oh, a few months now.

As much of a political junkie as I am, my other passion is for storytelling, as per the tagline of my blog. During the Presidential election, something started bugging me and has now, with the Milo revelations and the fallout, coalesced into a two-part question:

Why does modern storytelling standard demand the heroes to be flawed?

And if that is the case, should we not be more tolerant of flawed heroes in real life?

The answer to the first is many-fold:

Flawed heroes are generally more interesting, in part because they're more likely to fail and thus provide us with more suspense.

Since we the readers are also flawed, and since we have been conditioned to seek out fictional heroes who are "more like us," most of us have developed this preference.

A redemption-based story arc, that by definition demands a flawed protagonist, is one of the most enduring, and shows no sign of falling out of fashion.

On a more disturbing side, both Hollywood and traditional book/comic publishing have become enamored with undercutting the traditional hero archetype, bringing us anything from Superman the Deadbeat Dad to the "terrible people doing terrible things" story lines, of which The Game of Thrones is perhaps the most successful.

The second question is more puzzling.

If our artistic preferences indicate that we have internalized the fact that no perfect heroes exist, and art is supposed to represent the Truth, why are we so blind to it in real life?

For that matter, why are we so quick to make heroes out of athletes and celebrities, but overlook those who are actually working, and taking risks, to make a difference?

I think the rather tragic truth is that we're desperate for true heroes. But we have been told over and over they don't exist. So in one of those cruel ironies beloved by storytellers, we eagerly fill the void with remote and glamorous celebrities, while gleefully tearing down those among us who might be admirable but are proven on close inspection to be imperfect. It confirms our pre-conceived notions. We tell ourselves there wasn't much worth appreciating in the first place, and we go on our no-so-merry way on the road that leads, not to finding better ideas and people to admire, but to the dead end of nihilism.

To be sure, real heroes are not immediately obvious. Sometimes it takes years, even generations, to see the full extent of a person's sacrifice and achievement, if that ever happens at all. But what I ask is, when you do see a spark of the heroic, even when it's wrapped inside a less than stellar package, do take time to notice and appreciate it, even if only for a while. Disappointment is always a risk, in fact almost an inevitability. Yet the alternative of retreating into a permanent state of cynical dismissal, of accepting that the days of heroes are forever behind us, is not one worth contemplating.

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And now as promised, more from John C. Wright. The quote below had me giggling throughout the day, but it's not a happy laughter. There are some people who need to read this one and realize that this is exactly how they come across. It isn't pretty.

Is he [Milo] a shameful and terrible spokesman for our beautiful Church? Yes, indeed, I fear he is. When I get to heaven, I will certainly chide Saint Mary Magdalene the whore and St. Matthew the tax-gathering collaborator, wag my finger under their noses, and demand to know why persons of doubtful morals speak up for Christ, embarrassing the righteous and the just.

Read the whole thing here.