Yesterday, as I was making dinner against the backdrop of "The Penguins of Madagascar" on television, it occurred to me that that show lacks a conventional "hero." It has various protagonists (usually the penguins) and antagonists (King Julien, et al), but it's not the way we learned in school.
(Although, I don't suppose the creators of the conflict diagram ever considered "Penguin vs. Lemur" as an option.)
And so I started thinking about the whole "hero vs. villain" construct and realized that we don't see much of that anymore. Not in its purest form, anyway. We tend to see more "anti-heroes" than actual heroes.
For example, the remake of The Italian Job. It could be argued that Charlize Theron's character is the hero, but she's still a thief, right? In fact, all the guys we want to win in the end are criminals. Lovable, incorrigible, clever criminals.
What does this mean? Is it a simple function of growing up that we lose our heroes? Or has the entire narrative world become so cynical that we can no longer create them? And if it's maturity, when does it happen? I suspect at a much younger age than it used to.
I'm trying to think of the last, pure hero I had. The Greeks sorted this out with the concepts of hubris and hammartia. But I think our culture ignored those angles for a very long time. Like, from 1946 to 2000. Or so.
Strange as it may seem, I'm not taking a real stand here. I'm curious. I could argue either side, but it would be much more fun for someone to enage in the discussion with me.
Can anyone think of an honest-to-goodness, modern-day hero? Someone completely incorruptible? From this planet?