In real life, our heroes rarely live up to the pedestals of our expectations. And sometimes they even seem like dicks (or worse — ordinary!). Just because we've seen every film or read every book or watched that skiing segment a million times our heroes will have a hard time differentiating us from the 50 other people who approached them that day and said, "Dude, I loved you in...."
Ultimately, despite whether they are dicks or cool or boring or bored, it's a fair bet the heroes are not the problem. Blame the energy-sucking vortex of fandom and a self-perpetuating culture of celebrity worship that values exposure, "likes" and "followers" over merit, wisdom and empathy.
Bill Murray, of course, is the exception that proves the rule. The Interweb is awash in stories and videos of Bill Murray being heroically fantastic almost everywhere he goes. From crashing bachelor parties and giving life advice to the groom to hugging hospital kids to randomly conducting marching bands Bill Murray can seemingly do no wrong. Once he came into Sushi Village and waited 40 minutes for a table, happily chatting with everyone who approached him. Then he bought big beers for all the sushi chefs and tipped 30 per cent. Bill Murray is a hero for the ages and to prove it Ghostbusters is being re-released this August 29 to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Start petitioning the Whistler Village 8 to bring that one in.
Of course, being a hero has got to be a pain in the ass sometimes, too. It can't be easy performing actual heroics all the time, often for little or no pay. And no one knows it better than Hercules, who is such a hero he stars in two swords-and-sandals Hollywood blockbusters this year: January's The Legend of Hercules (so awful even Zeus walked out partway through) and this week's Hercules, opening Friday at the good old Village 8.
Hercules is the Roman name for Heracles, a mythical Greek (the Greeks pretty much invented heroism) who was so heroic he even found a cool way to clean 30 years cow shit out of a giant never-ending stable (just flex your biceps and divert a couple rivers!). Sadly, the Greeks didn't possess the same public relations savvy as the Romans and Hercules is the hero-version most people remember today.
With Hercules, director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Tower Heist) strips away some of the myth and puts a more revisionist, regular-dude hero on screen. Played amazingly by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Hercules and his merry band of sidekicks are more mercenaries than legends and while there looks to be plenty of epic CGI ass-kicking, I have doubts Ratner really brings anything new to the character. This looks like a fun mess.
Also opening, Lucy stars Scarlett Johansson as a hell-raisier who is dosed with some drug that unlocks the "unused" part of her brain and sends her on some kind of revenge-fueled tear of awesomeness. Written and directed by Luc Besson (Fifth Element), Lucy resembles that Bradley Cooper flick Limitless but with better visuals and less brain. It looks like a frantic cinematic speed trip cut with stock animal footage, blur edits and random "smart" stuff. Lucy won't change your life but it's B-grade fun and you can't really go wrong with Scarjo in an ass-kicking heroine role. Hollywood needs way more of that.
On the other end of the spectrum: Villains. For every Batman there's a Joker and while we generally celebrate the heroes of popular culture the villains are usually way more interesting. Cinema box office numbers are way, way down this summer (because most of the movies have sucked), so the Download of the Week is actually a book — Chuck Klosterman's I Wear the Black Hat is a profound examination of bad guys and antiheros in fiction and reality and why we let them get away with it.
Few pop culture writers jump into their subject as deeply as Klosterman and this time out he examines everything from NWA to real-life vigilante Bernard Goetze, to Wikileaks to Marxist dialectics as he examines our assumptions, preferences and cultural predilections.
It's thought-provoking stuff. You can download the Black Hat ebook but I prefer Armchair Books in Whistler Village. Real heroes shop local.