I’ve been thinking a lot about hero-worship lately. I’ve always held to the idea that we create heroes to fill the void in ourselves. There’s a part of us that wants to believe that, faced with insurmountable odds, when all hope seems lost, we’d rise to the challenge. We’d risk life and limb to save the universe from Darth Vadar. Shame nobody saved us from Pokemon.*
I am going to need your help on this – this all builds to a question. So, bear with me.
Now, what has prompted me to comment on this today is the fact that apparently Justin Trudeau is going to take a run at federal politics.
A lot of you are probably thinking, Who?
This is the eldest son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. He was our PM when I was a kid. All I really remember about him is that I knew adults who hated his guts and people used to say PetroCan stood for Pierre Elliot Trudeau Rips Off Canada. I actually have no idea why.
Speaking from experience, well, I don’t really have anything to say. I was 13 when he was leaving office, and knew precious little about politics at that point in my life.
So, you ask, what’s so special about Justin Trudeau?
Well, apparently he’s good-looking. Don’t ask me. I’ve heard the same said of many who hold no appeal for me whatsoever. Usually, the more universally “gorgeous” the more I don’t get it. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with his looks.
I actually didn’t realize Justin and I are the same age.
The reason Justin’s a stand-out? Only because the Trudeau’s are, to some people anyway, Canada’s answer to the Kennedy’s. To be quiet honest, I’m not sure why. My initial instinct on it is to say we’re copycats and were desperate to appoint someone we thought we worshipped.
It is true that the Trudeau family brought something to Ottawa that isn’t often there, our usual leaders being a fair bit older. The Trudeau’s had kids. And for some reason, being not only a Prime Minister but a parent makes you far more interesting. As though the country isn’t filled with parents.
So, I saw the headline about Justin Trudeau this morning and thought to myself, What’s he done to merit the attention? Of course, the answer is nothing special. Just by nature of being born a Trudeau he is, to many Canadians, a celebrity. Off-hand, I couldn’t even tell you if he has a job or what he does.
Why would he make a good MP? It’s clear to me that the people who want to see Trudeau in federal politics believe he can heal the Liberal Party and be the next great leader of Canada.
Me, I’m okay with the guy we’ve got right now. Who also has young kids.
I have nothing against Trudeau at all. But I don’t like the interest in his running, simply because it has that celebrity angle to it. It isn’t quite as over-the-top as it would be if Pamela Anderson ran, but it’s still bad enough. He represents some legacy…but he has no proven track record as a politician, a leader, an example.
He’s not my hero.
Now, that isn’t to say he wouldn’t make a good PM some day. (We all know that’s what some members of the Liberal party are anxious to groom him for. No wonder the current leader of the Liberal party isn’t too happy about Justin’s sudden interest in taking a run in the next federal election. But it is to say that when I decide how to vote, “celebrity” has nothing to do with it. Party record does. I belong to no political party, and I will weigh a number of factors each election. If I think a government is filled with lying bastards who’re defrauding Canadians of millions of dollars so that they can set their friends up for life, I’m not too damn likely to vote for them. Of course, surviving Bob Rae in Ontario has me fairly set in my decision to never vote NDP… And I haven’t really taken to the fringe parties just yet, but next time might be the time I vote Marijuana. Except I usually like a party to have more than one platform to run on.)
It’s just that this announcement contributed to things I was already thinking about… About why we seek heroes, about why we decide someone is a hero.
Someone’s a hero if they rescue a person from a burning building? In a manner of speaking. They have committed a heroic act. But are they a hero, forever worthy to wear the label? What if the person is also a drunk? What if he beats his wife at home? He still saved someone’s life…
In a few weeks I’ll be attending Left Coast Crime. I’ll be moderating a panel.
Guess what the panel is about?
DO WE READ THRILLERS BECAUSE WE WANT HEROES?
So often, the protagonists in a thriller is up against a conspiracy or an establishment and is all alone. Do we want him to succeed because of that - because we all want, or maybe even need heroes?
I’m curious to know what you guys think. Are we looking for heroes? To be honest, I think much of the time we’re looking for real, normal people who just happen to stand up and display some courage. I’m not sure if that makes them heroes. To me, the hero character is Luke Skywalker. And the real person is Han Solo.
Years ago I was talking with a friend about other friends, who they were dating. One had some very unrealistic expectations in a partner. Nobody measured up. I rather tactlessly said, “Gee, I want to marry someone at least a little bit sinful.” I remember the moment clear as day because everyone doubled over laughing at me. I never thought it was that funny, and when I was ultimately asked why, I said it was simple. Who wants to marry someone who’s perfect? You’re saying yourself they can never do anything wrong, and since I know I’m not perfect I’d be constantly reminded that I didn’t measure up, and who wants to be saddled with that?
Of course, the other thing is, if someone does the right thing to get accolades, can they really be considered heroic?
I’m finalizing my panel discussion questions, and still sifting through my thoughts on this. If you think you have any great questions, or examples, I’d appreciate the input. I guess that, with so much of what I read being police procedurals, I definitely don’t qualify as reading for heroes. I mean, cops are heroic. But Rebus, a hero? Not quite how I see him. And then the thrillers I do read, Simon Kernick’s books (particularly featuring Dennis Milne) are definitely not about a conventional hero. He’s an anti-hero if ever there was one. And it seems to me there are a lot of anti-heroes out there in fiction today.
I am looking forward to this panel. I’m with a great group of authors, and I only hope I measure up as moderator. (And we all know there isn't a single person on the planet I worship, right? So I definitely need some help with this topic.)
*Deletta, I bet you’re laughing and thinking what I’m thinking.