Knapsacking Up: Heroes

I Am Male… I have easily accessible heroes.

Growing up, I never had a shortage of heroes. First, when I was really young and determined to be a farmer, it was my dad. When I was introduced to sports, they became athletes like David Robinson, Shane Mack, and Sammy Sosa. Later, when I discovered history, I was drawn towards World War II heroes like Raymond Spruance, Ernest Evans, and Winston Churchill.

We’re in a feminist series, so I won’t insult you by explaining what they all have in common. (Cool first names? You’re not very good at this, are you, nonexistent reader?) I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a woman growing up at the same time. Where, other than my own life, would I have been able to find childhood heroes?

It wouldn’t have been in sports. The Williams Sisters? Yeah, nothing like tennis talk around the classroom water cooler. Jackie Joyner Kersey? Yay! A hero every four years! Rebecca Lobo? Cool, but it’s not like there’s some sort of women’s version of the NBA in which she can play after college.

It wouldn’t have been in history. What important contributions to history by women are studied in elementary or middle school, other than, perhaps, the requisite Rosa Parks lesson in February? Not to demean the courage or heroism of Mrs. Parks, but her inclusion is much more about tokenism than a genuine exploration of women’s roles in history or the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

It wouldn’t have been in politics. I would imagine little girls were about as interested in growing up to be Madeleine Albright as much as I wanted to be the next James Baker III. Although, to be fair, Dean Acheson’s mustache is something to which every young man should ascribe.

Secretary of State references!

Secretary of State references!

It wouldn’t have been television, where the only strong pre-Buffy leads were… ummmm… (/Wikipedias “90’s television female leads.” No results except “Who searches Wikipedia like that?”) You get the idea.

Hell, there weren’t even great female heroes in comics. You, know? The place that HAS NOTHING BUT HEROES! I suppose Wonder Woman was alright, but she was about it unless you wanted Superman with boobs and a skirt or Batman with boobs and really sensible footwear for a thief.

I’m sure female heroes existed in some obscure comics or television programs that lasted all of a season before cancellation. But you had to work to find them. I didn’t to find any of mine.

You know what? I liked Buffy too.

Advertisements

Mass Effections: I Am Not a Hero

At their core, video games are mechanisms for people to play out their hero fantasies. Most of us don’t get the chance to be the sort of hero we grow up revering. The guy who charges a machine gun nest to relieve pinned down comrades. The gal who rushes into a burning house to save someone else.

We all want to be heroes and video games make for a painless way to “prove” that we are.

Some games give you classic heroes. Their honor, courage, and nobility are all that’s required to stack up a pile of corpses large enough to save the day.

Other games give you anti-heroes. They save the day by amassing an equally impressive pile of bodies, but through the POWER OF SARCASM.

Others still feature reluctant heroes. They require a catalyst, usually an attack on something or someone they love, before they save the day via a pile of corpses.

Also common are unlikely heroes. They are just an average Joe or Josephine; a common person who must create an uncommonly large pile of corpses to save the day.

At the root of it all is the belief that we would be heroes if only given the opportunity.

************************

Mass Effect lets you be your own sort of hero. You can be the product of a spacefaring family, a poor Earth orphan, or a survivor of a colony wiped out by slavers. Although I am of Earth, the colonial option sounded closer to my agrarian roots.

You also get to choose your backstory. You can be the sole survivor of a mission gone wrong, a war hero who single-handedly repelled an invasion, or a renegade who ruthlessly completes the mission regardless of cost.

Without a personal connection to any of them, I picked the war hero.

We all want to be heroes.

************************

I don’t have the physical courage necessary to be a hero.

That doesn’t make me a total coward. I probably have intellectual courage. I don’t settle for easy answers and I’m not afraid to question my beliefs, even those most cherished. That takes courage.

I have moral courage most of the time. I usually can be counted on to do the right thing. However, I’m also practical enough to choose my battles. Heroes don’t fight the good fight only when it’s easy or convenient. I could stand to improve in that regard.

I do not possess physical courage. Brave a storm of gunfire? Continue reading