The Lipstick Chronicles (where the Book Tarts talk love, laughter, laundry and the mysteries of writing life) has just published a nice essay by William Simon on Black and White Heroes that has provoked a lot of excitement and response. The basic premise is that in the days of old, heroes were heroes and you could tell them from the bad guys without too much effort. Nowadays, in an effort to be dark and realistic, all the good guys are much darker shades of grey and not that much different than the evil that they are fighting.
This will be a bigger issue when the Saint returns to TV in the near future on TNT. How will a modern-day Saint still retain the gentleman touch and yet still be able to relate to the new darker side of the underworld with the good humor and aplomb we have come to know and love?
William's essay ends with:Back to the point, look around today and we have no heroes on television. We have sociopathic psychos with badges who ram guns down people's throats and yell "Suck THIS, pal!", and they are usually some sort of recovering addict, be it alcohol/drugs, sex, or gambling. We have characters who kill as easily as they sneeze. Stealing is perfectly acceptable, as long as no one gets caught. No damsel needs rescuing, and if she does it's usually a setup to try and kill the protagonist. It is entertaining for him to slap/hit/threaten her, usually while screaming her marked resemblance to a female canine at the top of his lungs. Lie, cheat, steal, hurt, no matter; it's okay, the end justifies the means. Results are what count, not the methods to achieve them, and if you don't believe that, take a close look at the Business World today.[ Read full essay... ]
Heroes should be above the crowd; polished but not effete, superior but not snide, capable but not arrogant, strong but not uncaring.
Today, we have no Bogart, or Gable, or Cooper. We don't have a Gardner, a Bacall, a Hepburn.
Hell, we don't even have a Saint anymore…