Have they all ridden off into the sunset?
It used to be you knew who the good guys were. In the movies, there were western heroes like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and Zorro (I would include Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix and Hopalong Cassidy, but I don’t believe too many people would know who they were). There was also Tarzan, spaceman Flash Gordon, and comic book heroes like the Shadow, the Green Hornet, Superman, Batman, etc. We also used to admire our athletes like Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, all of which were gifted athletes who represented their sport and teams admirably. We also followed explorers like Charles Lindbergh, Admiral Byrd, and the Mercury astronauts, not to mention men in the military such as Audie Murphy, Billy Mitchell, Eddie Rickenbacker, Sergeant York, and Chuck Yeager. Even Indiana Jones, which was introduced 35 years ago, is from a bygone generation.
Whether they were fictitious or not, these were all people who were admired. They also made handy role models for others to emulate, particularly our youth. They defined what was good, and were people with unshakable integrity. They were people who could be trusted and, frankly, you wanted to shake their hand. More importantly, you wanted to be them. There is no doubt, many of them were carefully managed by a studio and agents, and their public comments were well scripted, but their public persona remained above reproach.
I’m not too sure who our heroes are anymore. None receive the publicity our heroes of yesteryear received. The heroes emerging from Hollywood today are portrayed as flawed individuals. Through some twist of fate, they all have an unsettling dark side whereby they can either turn to good or evil. Our athletes have become mercenaries who are as loyal as the highest bidder. Perhaps the closest thing we have to heroes are our military troops, police, firefighters, and EMT personnel, but we think of them more as faceless professionals, as opposed to bearing any identity.
Maybe our heroes are nothing more than those people on reality television who sing and dance, or maybe they are the latest generation of cartoon characters, such as “SpongeBob SquarePants.” If this is true, it is rather shallow thinking. I also hope they are not the “gansta” rap artists or street gangs.
No, I’m not too sure who the good guys are anymore. All of my childhood heroes, such as Johnny Weissmuller, Clayton Moore and Buster Crabbe, are long gone. I am certainly not suggesting we go back to these characters of yesteryear, but I am wondering why we are not promoting new characters based on the same virtues and nobility. It would seem there is a premeditated attempt to do away with not only such characters, but the ethics associated with them, such as honesty, integrity, honor, and bravery. These are all admirable traits, but I no longer see them being portrayed in a positive light. The “good guys” serve an important function in our society, namely “morality.” Let’s just hope the good guys haven’t all ridden off into the sunset.
Keep the Faith!