Jewish World Review August 5, 2002 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5762
Time for some
real cultural heroes
This summer, Matthew McConaaughey, the hunky dreamboat star of a series of
awful movies, was out on the virtual road plugging his most recent stinker,
REIGN OF FIRE, appearing via the miracle of videotape on "Access Hollywood,"
to be specific, when the sound man suffered a seizure. Thinking quickly,
according to the Mercury News wire services, he resuscitated the man and
"sustained" him until the medics arrived. So the fictitious hero who saved
the world from carnivorous if computer-generated dragons in a movie became a
real hero in a modest way. But I was touched, reading this little story.
After all, a lot has changed in the past few years. Our heroes, for a while
there, were entrepreneurs and CEOs. Now the entrepreneurs are all broke, and
the CEOs reviled, some of them even may even go to prison, or at least be
forced to hire a bunch of lawyers, perhaps even a gaggle of lawyers. In the
wake of September 11, firefighters were our heroes again, just like the
fifties. Then two firefighters in the west were accused of helping to start
the fires they were called to put out. Pilots were heroes, until the
AmericaWest pilots were kicked off their flight for being legally drunk.
President Bush was considered a hero, until this whole Enron thing popped up,
and he's now being considered the corporate flunkie liberals have been
positioning him as for years. America was considered heroic in our belated
entry in the war on terrorism, until our smart bombs dropped a few i.q. points
along with megatonnage on innocent bystanders. I
understand that New Yorkers have also gone back to being rude, Giulani is back
to divorce court, and the powers that be are arguing bitterly and rancorously
among themselves as to what kind of memorial should be placed at the Twin
So yeah, movie stars turning heroic in small modest ways. Why not? Maybe
there time has come.
I'm not talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger doing the
Heimlich maneuver at Planet Hollywood, or Tom Cruise putting on a flak jacket
to take out a ring of terrorists in Beverly Hills. I'm talking about Billy
Bob Thornton volunteering to test the eyesight of little old ladies, and
grinding the lenses himself. I'm talking about Gwyneth Paltrow cleaning the
teeth of shut ins. I'm talking about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon going door to
door offering free shoe shines.
Maybe we could declare a moratorium on larger
than life heroism, fire, narrow escapes, explosions, great evils and greater
goods. Maybe we should just concentrate on the simple old-fashioned good
deed. Free cones and puppies and a stick of sugar-free gum for the kiddies
after we've strip-searched them at the airport.
Wouldn't that be nice?
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales