What happened to heroes on television?
When I was a kid I would rush home after school every day to watch the exploits of James T. Kirk as he commanded the starship Enterprise on the original “Star Trek.” Kirk was a brash, charismatic and sometimes temperamental leader. But one thing was clearly evident, Kirk was always working for the good. Whether that good was for his crew, an alien civilization or saving the universe, you always could tell Kirk was the good guy.
Same held true for Matt Dillon of “Gunsmoke” and Ben Cartwright of “Bonanza” and even Andy Taylor from “The Andy Griffith Show.” These men were honest, trustworthy, brave, loyal and always, always striving to do the greater good.
This is definitely not the case with today’s television offerings. Take Walter White from “Breaking Bad” as an example. This guy is a school teacher who decides to start cooking meth in an RV and even enlists the help of one of his former students in the endeavor. What would Helen Crump think about this?
Then we have Don Draper from “Mad Men.” He’s an advertising executive who treats the women in his life with complete disrespect most of the time. He is also a deserter from the military who takes on the name of a fellow serviceman who was killed in action. He drinks to excess and is a consistent womanizer. Rob Petrie from “The Dick Van Dyke Show” worked in television as a writer similar to Draper and I don’t recall Rob ever cheating on his wife Laura.
Lastly we come to Dexter Morgan from the television show “Dexter.” Dexter is a forensic technician who works on crime scenes. Dexter is also a serial killer. During the course of the series, Dexter killed 55 people on screen. Dr. Quincy from television’s “Quincy, M.E.” was, as the title suggests, a medical examiner much like Dexter but I never saw Quincy choke a young woman with one hand and then slit her throat with a razor.
This is what passes for heroes on television today. Many folks would say I’m just an old guy who doesn’t get that today’s “heroes” must be flawed in order to be relatable. Kirk had flaws, he chased women too much and sometimes let his emotions overwhelm his better judgment but he never pushed a young boy off a tower like the “hero” Jamie Lannister did in “Game of Thrones.”
Kirk killed people during the show but I never saw him strangle a guy to death while taunting him that his brother will meet him in hell. This act was carried out by Tony Soprano on “The Sopranos.” But people loved Tony Soprano and some folks would consider him a modern-day hero.
I miss my television heroes. The great thing about Netflix and the like is it allows me to get a good dose of old fashioned heroes anytime I want. I will sit back and enjoy my childhood hero Jim Kirk as he races across the galaxy to save the day before the antimatter explodes. I much prefer this over watching the anti-hero kill 15 people on the way to his child’s birthday party.
Editorial on 08/25/2019
Print Headline: The vanishing hero