Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Classical Virtue of HEROES

Eros. Romance. It is the near-universal ingredient in the most popular films, books or television of the last century, and its prominence has been snowballing. Why is this? Is it the greatest among its sisters, agape, phileo and storge? For several millennia, eros had occupied a rather low rank on the totem pole of love. Now, eros takes center stage, while the others play a supporting role. At the very least, no modern story-teller would dare to stand before us and spin a yarn without including, in some capacity, romance. We would mock him as prudish or boring. You cannot capture and inspire an audience without Jack and Rose, Romeo and Juliet, Peter Parker and Mary Jane.

Then comes Heroes. Did you notice that there is no significant, on-going romantic thread to the story, what-so-ever? Peter and Simone have a brief fling, but it is down-played and tangential to their character development. So how can Heroes make it on prime-time? It has gritty marital love, sans lusty sex-scenes, between Nikki & DL, Nathan & Hiedi, Matt & Janice (Parkman) and Mr. & Mrs. Bennett. It has parent-child love between Mr. Bennett & Claire, Mrs. Petrelli & Peter, Simone & Mr. Deveaux, and most powerfully between Nikki, DL and Micah. It displays the brotherly love of Nathan and Peter.

But most importantly of all, in my book, is the beautiful friendship between Hiro and Ando. In the classics, friendship was always considered one of the highest forms of love. Today, we can't even comprehend two people being intimate without sexual attraction. Everything is eroticized. I'm sure there are web-sites out there dedicated to theories about Hiro and Ando as gay lovers. How pathetic. Like David and Jonathan in the Bible, Hiro and Ando are soul-mates who express love and support through the most frightening of scenarios. We need more examples like them to hold up before the watching eyes of our young people.

Heroes is a great show, not because of the writing, acting or amazing visual effects. It is not great because it amazes us with tales of supernatural beings. It is great because it teaches us what it means to be human.


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