We all have our special brands of heroes and villains. The heroes are people, places, and events we admire. The villains are people, places, and events we despise.
We look up to heroes.
We look down on villains.
Obvious Heroes and Villains
There are obvious heroes and obvious villains. Heroes are courageous, self-sacrificing, and usually hard to find. Villains are powerful and self-serving at the expense of others.
For me, it is the heroes and villains that are the lesser known that have the greatest impact on me. These are the heroes and villains that inhabit our own environment, our own sphere of influence: The inspirational 4th-grade English teacher, the bully down the block. It is in the lesser of our heroes and villains that a little piece of ourselves resides
There have been some interesting studies on how our perception of heroes and villains have changed over time. For heroes and villains express cultural values revered or feared by society. Comic books and movies are the best media indicators of current and past values.
In the recent past, heroes like Superman, James Bond, and Batman were virtuous heroes combating villains who were trying to rule the world. Today there is the Gordon Gekko of “greed is good” fame and the mining colony expansion in the movie Avatar, illustrating two pressing issues of our time — greed and the environment.
Classic storytelling, certainly, but in each story resides a an element of truth — a frightening element of truth.