The Death of the hero and idolization of heroes: how post-modern cynicism has made us disenchanted with the hero narrative (or madly in love with aphorism)
Heroes are great, but I’ll take a blaster every time — Abed
Don’t you remember a time where cartoons were simple? There was a bad guy and a good guy and everyone knew exactly who to root for. When the resurgence of super hero movies came along, it seemed the 2000s would be filled with tales of dashing good guys saving the day from people who were clearly understood as the bad guys. No ambiguity or an “everyone has their own demons” revelation. Just bad guy messes things up. Good guy fixes it. Then Dark Knight came out and suddenly a new standard was set. Instead of good guys, good; bad guys, bad; everyone must have some sort of jaded past or tragedy worked into their stories. Lo and behold we’re in 2017 and we still see attempts at making Peter Parker into an angst driven teen, who happens to be Spiderman. And these movies sell. People don’t believe in the honest to goodness truth anymore. We need grit. We need subterfuge. The cake is a lie!
But this cynicism has a price. When moral ambiguity is the status quo it becomes impossible to determine what is good and what is bad. Our children constantly search for the vestiges of morality and are instead given a philosophical questionnaire. While I do not suggest we encourage blind adherence to tropes of good and evil, we need to know what it feels like to be good and what it feels like to be evil. Comics, movies and other media allowed us to play out that feeling, but now everything has a catch. This pervasive skepticism has transformed our generation into a tepid group, who permanently has their eyebrows raised in disbelief. Our eyes remain narrow as we read and our lips perpetually bitten as we search for the detail that is awry. If we cannot find it, then we make it. Suddenly, the background becomes bleak and the foreground, a cardboard superstructure, waiting to be toppled. Everything is subversion in the age of cynicism. Even this very blog post must be met with healthy criticism about its over generalizing nature.
Skepticism is a constant state of peril. Very few can remain in a state of skepticism in perpetuity. We eventually crack. The logical gravitas weighs down on us, forcing us to take dogmatic sides in the hopes to compensate for the time we spent in philosophical limbo. People like me are masochistic; we torture ourselves with skepticism. You can find us wearing tin-foil hats as we look for flaws like a never ending game of Where’s Waldo. Except Waldo’s dead. We look for mere rumors of his presence by taking every striped like design as his specter. But skepticism is a death in a sense. It is the death of truth. Objective truth to be specific. We lose objectivity in the age of skepticism. In its place is a never ending torture wheel that spins aimlessly, while we nit pick whether to call it a wheel or an ellipse.
After we have cracked, we become primal beasts who feast upon the ideological drippings of madmen. They spew nonsense across the web.We consume it in the hopes to regain the feeling in our hands, which have fallen asleep in the lull of skepticism. The pins and needles are welcomed because they remind us that we are objectively alive. No brain in a vat nonsense here, just a tinge of pain which comes like a large din that eventually dies into a constant low pitch hum. We get used to being tortured. The torture of ignorance is preferential to that of uncertainty. Constantly having to assess your options is as if you were sitting down to order food every second of your life. The ferociousness of the skeptical vortex is deafened by your safe space. Conservative safe spaces come with guns to make you feel even safer.
I have chosen a different path. I scribble drawings of stick figures with capes. They fly across the loose leaf pages, fighting all the skepticism in my life. My job, my future career, my love life; these things are no match for the heroic efforts of my rudimentary drawings. And I always know who the good guy is. The bad guy is but a blur because that would require skepticism. I stare at the page for a bit, hoping he’ll break out of the margins and save me. When he arrives, he begins to speak, but I erase his mouth. Lest he speak something to be interpreted. I smile. My superhero has arrived in grey scale.