Jewish World Review August 5, 2002 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

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 Towers site.

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.


07/31/02: Yearning for a nostalgic American product that was neither
07/24/02: Voicemail heaven?
07/18/02: At the movies with your friendly neighborhood curmudgeon
07/12/02: King of Kitsch
07/09/02: Musicians' brains
07/01/02: Where's my cow?
06/24/02: Modern record stores can be a scary proposition
06/21/02: Life IS a movie?
06/19/02: Spreading fertilizer on a dictionary to try to raise a novel
06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
06/12/02: Very similar to a rock
06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales