It takes a lot to be a true super hero. But before you can choose one that stands above all, that is worth to be admired by the masses, you need to define a hero. For Germany, the last famous person, that I can think of, that was referred to as a real hero was Matthias Steiner, a weightlifter and Olympic gold medalist, who stood on the medalists’ podium showing a picture of his late wife who died in a car accident and would have otherwise accompanied him to the Olympic Games. Surely, a real hero! But let’s see what in general makes a hero, and let’s say apart from sports, which is kind of a special case.
First of all, you have to find a situation, a place and time, where there is a demand for heroes.
I’d love to become a hero by sitting here in front of my screen. Yet nothing makes it necessary to behave heroically, unless I were to burn my neighbor’s house and then save him and his family – but then the whole thing would lose its charm. Thus, we’ve found the first ingredient for a story: A not self-caused situation that requires heroic efforts. In addition to this, you have to act, quickly and selflessly, to acquire heroic privileges. That is to say that calling the fire engine when watching a house burning from a secure distance doesn’t make anyone a hero. You have to make sacrifices and show that you care for people and help more than others would. This is the second ingredient that we need to create a nice hero story. But, of course, there’s still something missing that turns out to be very essential: the audience. I can declare myself a hero in the morning when I grin at the mirror, because I find leaving my warm, tempting bed (ingredient 1) to take a freezing cold shower ingredient 2) pretty hero-like (let’s say there’s only cold water and I would smell terrible without taking a shower, which in turn would cause my colleagues at work to have severe health problems). But, this appears rather unsatisfactory. Even if my girlfriend was there to support me in this belief as well, it wouldn’t be great hero’s saga. If, however, 300 hundred admirers, were to gather in front of the bathroom window, the whole thing would reach a higher level! So, ingredient number 3 is a crowd of cheering fans that makes you feel similar to a real champion. You think this is quite a lot to take in? And that you can’t wait for the next house to burn down in order to save life and become a star?
Then, I have a secret ingredient for you that makes it much easier to enter the heroes all stars hall of fame. It’s sympathy! Just try to save the life of a big-boned, jobless and anti-social alcoholic. You’ll see that nobody would really care. Sad but true. Now, do the same for a little whining cat of an old lady and the masses will go crazy. That’s not fair but human. If you then, add some dramatic music and lights, make a video and broadcast it during prime time, a real hero is born. Weird, isn’t it? TV and the compassion of the average person have long ruined the hero saga. Just recently, a harmonica player, who had a bad accident and had lost his job, appeared on one of these talent shows playing cheesy songs and won it to then be completely exploited by the media and music business, that will drop him down like a useless stone as soon as the sales go down. Not that I begrudge him any of his short-lived success, but some may argue that this sounds more like a victim story than that of a hero.
Anyway, true heroes maybe aren’t that hard to find. I know some that don’t need any cams, applauding crowds or burning houses. My super heroes are those working hard for their beloved ones, day by day, helping without seeing any profit or fame. Those, who would never think of themselves as heroes, and still deserve this title so much. So, maybe you are one of them. If so, please don’t let it go to your head and start playing the harmonica. It’s fine like it is.