One could say that before the hero can become the hero they must first be a fool, at least that is the narrative structure of storytelling. In Norwegian folklore, one has Askeladen who is the but of the joke for his older brothers, but who in the end rises to the challenge and solves the problem either by lateral thinking or showing compassion where those who went before him did not. This structure should seem familiar to most as it is not specific to Norway, just look at any superhero, in nearly all cases, when the story begins they are the outcast of there community, but a defining event gives them a chance for greatness, to which if they use there newly found power for their own gains they become the villain or if they use it to benefit their community they become the hero. This brings me to what I believe is a rather interesting point, replace the word hero with wealth and look at the 1% who sit with half the wealth of the world, now use the logic of the comic book to define the villain and hero. I think one would find that with comic book logic the world is run by villains.
There are real-life heroes, people who save lives and those who endeavour to make the world a better place, people who maybe get a gold watch when they retire but are generally unknown. The hero I am writing about is the individual elevated to a heroic status by society. I would argue that their story is told in a way that follows the structure of a fictional story arc. The fictional hero who is the protagonist of most stories, be it drama, comedy or action. The hero must be created in such a way that we can identify with them since they are often used as the window to the story. At the beginning of the story, the hero starts out as either the fool or a normal person. The heroes looks, in the beginning, are generally bland and their skills are perfectly average. As the story progresses they are elevated out of blandness and take on striking features and gain exceptional skills. The story revolves fully around the hero, often making them into the chosen one or someone from unique bloodlines.
I have a suspicion that there is a human need created when we were children, our perception then was that the world revolved around us, a perspective that we lost as we learned that is not the case. However, I would argue that the desire for a centric feeling is fulfilled through fiction. If there is a basis for that idea to be true then one could learn a lot about a society by looking at the heroes it chooses to elevate. The logic here is that a society wishes to foster certain traits in people, if a society is expanding it needs explorers such as Norway’s Roald Amundsen, if a country is at war it needs war heroes such as America’s Audie Murphy, when the country has reached its pinnacle within a capitalistic system it needs consumers such as TV-reality stars and other entertainers such as sports and movie stars that can help sell the dream. I suspect that the image of the Hero is also used to subjugate certain groups of people and ideas and elevate others. It is logical for a society to do so for one of its main functions is to provide a sense of stability, I think it is safe to say in western society the hero has been male and white. Excluding women and people of different ethnic origins. That is to say, only white males have truly been able to have there centric feeling fulfilled through fiction and by so doing giving them a sense of entitlement and legitimizing there perceived right to hold power.
When society radically changes its old heroes fade away and are replaced by new heroes. Take the American war hero, by the time the Vietnam war came about they were practically perceived as the villain, whilst the free-thinking musicians, artists, and hippies were the new heroes, though their status was short-lived, as they were not beneficial to where the powers that bee wanted society to evolve, and the image of the hippy changed to that of a freeloader to society.
The hero in my eyes is but a poster boy that is used by the status quo to manipulate its citizens, and should not be someone we desire to become. Returning to past examples, becoming the hero is the goal that must not be achieved; it should also not be the goal in the first place, instead of one’s aspiration, I believe, should be to do heroic deeds without the centric desire for statues, reward, and admiration. In effect, one should never seas being the fool, if one does one will fail.