When I was a kid, I loved to imagine myself the hero of various plots. I’d while away time daydreaming, often picturing myself in place of a character from TV or books. I remember being Sara from The Little Princess and Pete from Pete’s Dragon.
A hero is just an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. (Not to be confused with a super-hero who has extra powers.) I prefer a hero who has to struggle and choose to be a hero, not the one who always does the right thing automatically.
I’m not saying that I’ve ever saved the world, but I can relate much better to heroes who struggle with the label, are anti-social and reluctant, than selfless heroes who take on evil without a thought to themselves. I want to see struggle. I want to be able to relate. Most of all, I want to see decisions and moral complexity. I love heroes, but I also love a good anti-hero.
I read an article that said that anti-heroes lack courage. I’d disagree with that. I think that anti-heroes prefer to save their own skins, but when it comes down to it, they find the courage they need. To me, courage isn’t about it being easy, but about being afraid and doing it anyway.
One of my favorite anti-heroes is Dexter Morgan as written by Jeff Lindsay. He’s somewhat different in the TV show than he is in the books, and I actually like him better as written in the books. The one thing that does stay the same is that Dexter is a serial killer who learned to channel his desire to kill into only killing really bad people. Dexter isn’t a traditional good guy, but he does make the world a safer place.
Another of my favorite anti-heroes is Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Again, as written in the book, not the movie version. Beware of the following spoiler if you haven’t seen it or read the book: Tyler/ Narrator (you know they’re the same person, right?) feels powerless and starts a fight club. Men who have nothing else come together to fight. For the length of the fight, they’re the center of someone else’s universe, and they’re alive. Tyler wasn’t a good guy, by any means, but I rooted for him and wanted him to survive.
Who’s your favorite hero or anti-hero?
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson