I think that most people would agree that there are certain things within society that we do not accept. Three most common are murder, rape and theft. In each there is an action of power or greed over another. Society, in general, disapproves of these and have punishments for those that would defy a societal norm. I say most people, because I cannot claim that all people decry any of these offenses against others. If that were true, then none of these would occur. They do, and we have, as taxpayers where we live, people paid to find and detain, hopefully incarcerate, those that violate that norm.
The are actions people take, for whatever reason they may have. Drug addiction may lead to theft, even murder in some cases. Rape is strictly, if we believe all of what we’ve read or heard over the years, is more about power over another person. It’s simply, in someone’s mind, a way of showing that they may do what they want with another, when they want. Do any of these, murderers, rapists, or thieves actually stop and consider the consequences of their actions? Not just to themselves, but to those they direct their offense towards? I don’t have any expertise in these areas but as just someone, sitting on the sidelines, observing, I would have to. say that no, none of these people consider anything beyond their immediate need or better, want.
Consider what we find acceptable as to what we do not. We can understand this based on what we view at the movies or on television. Remember Robin Hood? How many movies have been made about this brave, social warrior who fought against the state for the freedom of his people? I first saw Errol Flynn play this part in a film from 1939, which of course I watched on television, and even though I later learned that this was an early color film, I watched on a black-and-white monitor as a child. What a guy! Taking from the rich, giving to the poor. How much better a person could that be? Well, based on above, he violated two societal prohibitions: theft and murder. Yes, he took money from the rich and in doing so killed those that would protect those people. He broke the common law. Yet today, after I don’t know how many films have been made about this mythological figure, he’s viewed as a hero simply because the King’s laws were evil. Well, according to him.
Bring Hollywood to more modern times and think about the classic, The Godfather. We just loved Marlon Brando in the starring role and because he was great to his family, and close friends, conveniently forgot that he too was a thief, murderer, and extortionist. But what a character! If we want to use a real life example, how about John Gotti, AKA, the “Teflon Don”? I recall how many cheered when he was acquitted of multiple crimes, including murder, at least twice before the government finally was able to take him down. Thousands, as it appeared on television , cheered his acquittal. Heck, I recall after one, someone had set off a fireworks display in celebration.
What, I wonder, does any of this say about us. those that cheer the bad guy, consider him a hero, because the other bad guy, the government? is perceived by the former as worse.
The same happens though on the other side. Cop shows are popular, and one of the most popular, Chicago P.D., I would think to be the example of what we wouldn’t want to see happen if we, a friend or loved one, were arrested by these officers. In fact, we would hope that those officers placing us in handcuffs would not summarily beat or torture us to some sort of confession or to give up information on someone else. How proud the real Superintendent of the Chicago police force must be if he or she watches this show. It definitely makes me want to visit Chicago, right? There are multiple shows like this where the police tend to bend the rules as they like to point out but any lawyer, right out of law school, with a license to practice, based on what we see on television, even the movies? The prisons would be empty.
Please don’t infer I’m anti-police. Far from it. I have two good friends, one with the city, the other with the county that are really good people and have decried how police are represented on television, not only in entertainment, but the media as well. Are there bad police? Of course. Just as there are bad lawyers, doctors, etc., but no one defers going to see their doctor, or a lawyer, because they might be dicey based on what they may have heard about doctors and lawyers in the media, or watched a television show where one or both are represented as persons of ill repute. If someone is trying to break into your home, who do you call? The television station?
So, i’ve gone a long way around to try and make a point that it’s not always possible to discern who the good guys are and the bad guys. I only use criminal activity as an easy example that most of us may be able to relate to in one way or another but it’s beyond those instances that we need to be aware as well. Not that any of our friends or relatives are going to actually club us in the head, but it’s interesting to know, when interacting with someone else how they may react or respond. We can’t always know that. We can’t know that the slightest critique may generate a tidal wave of retribution. We have no way of knowing whether we may be perceived as the good Robin Hood, an almost Christlike figure of the movies, or the robber and murderer (of careers in this instance) that he actually may be.
What we perceive is just that and nothing else. It has more to do with what we’re told than an actual observation because we’re indoctrinated to believe what we are told is good and true. But if we don’t ask why we should believe, then all we’ve done is perpetuate a system that itself believes that it may do no harm, We allow those that claim to be more knowledgeable than us to dictate to us, without ever raising our hand to question. Those that do are either dismissed or referred to as renegades against the established thought. Consider those last two words: established thought. Simply because what’s being offered fits within that parameter does not make it right, or does not (should not) mean it may not be questioned. Everything is turned topsy-turvy. Good is bad, and vice versa. Daring to challenge a sacred idea is intellectual heresy and must be stamped out immediately.
The john Gotti’s of the intellectual world become rulers and those that dare defy may be relegated to the death of intellectual obscurity. Those self-described intellectual elites would have us believe they’re the Robin Hood, the ones that desire to right the wrongs of society all the while ripping that same society apart to remake it in their image. Questioning their propositions and methodology is nothing more than an affront to that same ideal society envisioned by those same few And yes, few. It’s not a majority but a vocal minority that’s involved here. The problem is that the real majority, are too afraid, for the most part, to stand up and call them out for what they are: charlatans.
One final example and then I’ll go away for now. Many of us have heard about Dr. Jordan Peterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto. He’s become a lightning rod on the left simply because he questions some of those ideas that are so much a part of what some wish to believe. His book, 12 Rules For Life became an international bestseller but also made him a pariah in some circles. I’ll be honest in that I don;t know that much about him. My experience is with a few short interviews and a few videos where I’ve listened to him speak. I’ve never read his book so I do not have that background , when I’ve listened to him to make a hard stand one way or another. I will say I have heard him in video presentations discuss topics that I would question, but nothing that I have seen, to date, makes me believe he has any ill intention.
He’s mostly hated by the left and I find it curious because the sme people that despise him are those that refuse to allow him to speak or will offer a venue for him to debate his ideas. He may be wrong, entirely, but how are any of us to know when all we know of are a few video clips of what he’s said? I wonder how many people that dislike him so much have even read his book? I’ll offer this up/; almost none. Why? Because today too many people will just take the opinion of another that someone has ill considered opinions without providing a scintilla of proof. Take a group of people at a university, say 100, into an auditorium, ask if they know if Dr. Peterson, after the boos, ask them to raise their hand if they’ve read his book. I would propose right now, less than 10 honest hands would be raised. I say that because it’s easy to want to be part of the crowd and of there were 100 raised hands, then his book would probably have been seen by millions. But there are those who will lie about their own experience to make someone else look bad.
If his ideas are that bad, shouldn’t they be open for debate? Why would anyone provoke violence on a campus to prevent others from hearing what he has to say? Is it because he tells truths that some don’t want to hear? I don’t know. I can only do here what those that refuse to allow him to speak do: speculate. When we prevent what we may believe to be bad ideas to be heard, how are we to ever know when we hear a truly bad idea? Why do we decide who’s the good guy and the bad guy in a movie other than that’;s what the director wants us to believe.
Maybe we should pause, listen and read for ourselves and not allow some authority to dictate to us what we should or shouldn’t be listening to or reading. If we take a step back and not immediately discount those ideas we may have heard are divisive and take the time for ourselves to understand what is being portrayed, we may come to a completely different conclusion. Was Robin Hood actually a good guy or were we just susceptible to what the writers and director wanted us to believe? John Gotti was a bad guy, but why were there so many people that at least appeared to love him so much? Was there something they knew the media’s never presented to us? I personally don’t think that way, but its just an example of allowing others to to our thinking for us.
When we allow others to control what we are allowed to think or say, in the long run, we get what we deserve.
5 thoughts on “Heroes and Villains: Can We Tell Them Apart?”
Good discussion. Too often on Twitter I am seeing people say they hate something or someone, but don’t seem to be able to give examples of why. It’s disappointing that they are simply parroting what they feel the majority endorses.
It’s the example of what education has become. Believe what you’re told. Your friends think someone is bad? It’s okay to agree with them without ever doing your own research into that person. It’s a mob mentality that’s not only taken over social media, but education as well.
I think you are making it a bit more complex than it needs to be. A hero is someone who agrees with everything I say on Twitter. A villain? Well, that’s somebody who dares to disagree with me or who expresses views I find “problematic” in some way. By doing so, they become “part of the problem,” and must be destroyed.
I rambled a bit but the point is that we too often accept what we’re told, instead of performing due diligence to determine of what we’re hearing/reading is true or not.
Agreed. At the same time, I wonder if this might be expecting too much. Most people are more focused on getting through their day and doing everything they have to do than they are on critically evaluating every piece of information they encounter. Being told something that sounds like it could be true by someone who sounds like they know what they are talking about is often deemed good enough. One would hope that people would break out of this pattern for the big stuff, but it probably gets harder over time to do that.