When’s the last time you watched a favorite action-hero, then went out and took some action of your own? Truth is, probably never.
Here’s the Freudian thing about action-heroes like Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Lee, Angelina Jolie, Geena Davis; or all those cinematic comic book heroes; or all those NFL warriors systematically crushing their opposition every Sunday. Cheering them on conveniently sates our repressed aspirations to go out and do something like that ourselves.
Virtually all of us like to believe in the inner sanctum of our thoughts that we have that same fury for victory they do, only Gee we live in this civilized time when we can’t strip down to our inner-hero-self and actually do these things. But how often we can privately imagine ourselves doing them.
Right now our world is bulging with problems that beg for heroic actions. Our Middle Eastern wars…our Washington gridlock….our troubles getting or keeping good jobs…our friends, parents or kids who just can’t seem to understand us…not to mention a whirlwind of crises with climate, hunger and health. Because we’re not especially qualified for the tasks nor is anyone especially asking for us, we get away with simply imagining ourselves in such roles.
But wait! There’s a second kind of satisfaction we get. In addition to imagining ourselves in these delicious roles, we have the perverse pleasure of criticizing the real heroes whenever they fail. And considering the vast scope of their tasks, they do fail. Say like that stupid elected official…or that bungling bureaucrat…or that tight end who blew his coverage. What the hell’s wrong with you guys.
See what I mean? In our minds we win both ways: whenever we choose to identify with their successes, and whenever we choose to judge their failures. When you look at it that way, you too can become a hero without even mussing your hair….
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