Sunday, April 25, 2010
A 'Heroes Death'
Oh, fandom, you give me so much to think about.
The 'Heroes Death'. I think it's something we're all familiar with, even if maybe we don't always think about it in those terms. It's archetypal. It's powerful. It harkens to something deep within us, something we don't even understand, maybe. Self sacrifice.
Most modern fiction (well, prior to the late 90's and on), the heroes always lived. It was a simple, boiled down version of good versus evil. The bad guys wear black hats, cackle sinisterly, and live on islands shaped like skulls with giant lasers in them. And the fiction was fun, and safe, because you knew that nothing ever *really* happened to the good guys. Beaten, bloodied, but they lived, and they won, and they got the girl.
But those were insanely unrealistic, and simplified. I know it, you know it.
The bad guys don't always look like bad guys. Sometimes the good guys aren't shiny and pure white. Sometimes they're dirty and grimy and only heroes in comparison to the villains of the piece.
And sometimes, they can't save everyone.
Sometimes the person they can't save is themselves.
But that's not enough to make it a heroes death. A heroes death is one of sacrifice. Of knowing the odds are against you, of knowing that your death is inevitable, and doing what you have to do anyway, because it's right, and to do anything else would be unthinkable.
A true heroes death *saves* the lives of others. Maybe everyone. Maybe only one other person. But it's a sacrifice - the life of the hero for the defeat (sometimes even only to give others the chance to defeat) the evil they are confronted with.
Why do we love our heroes so much? Because they're willing to die for us. Because we wish, in a part of ourselves, that faced with that same situation, we would be able to stand up, to step forward, and make the sacrifice. To save the world. Or just the most important person in it, to us. And there's the gratitude, too, Thankfulness for the chance that they have just bought us with their blood, with their lives. The chance to do better. To be good. To be worthy of their belief in us.