Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Know Your Archetype: The Hero

Or,  how to go from a Hero to Zero, in no time flat.

Originally, I was going to address the Temptress in the archetype series, but too many recent posts conspired and coalesced that I changed my mind, and decided to tackle heroes/heroines. (Although conquering one’s desire with the femme fatale would be very challenging, especially with all these posts on feminism. All hail Samantha Bee! All hail Kristin Shaal! Felicia Day,Gloria Steinem – remember when feminists got upset when she got married? She of the a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle fame?

What qualities make a ‘hero?’ Courage, bravery, willingness to help others in times of difficulty, selfless acts of generosity of spirit, time, and resources. Wait. Am I describing a hero or a Labrador Retriever?

It is not my intent to debate the definition of bravery or courage. No one will ever agree on these, their connotations versus denotations. It is only my intent to describe the archetype of a hero in mythology, and in the mythos of gaming. Walk down the gallery of busts and pedestals, the annals of history, and see what we can see. (But I kind of failed at this.)

This comment interested me: March 27, 2012 at 11:15 pmI’m not sure being controversial or stirring shit for the sake of it has much to do with bravery. just as a side-note, definitions are getting a bit too mixed up for me here and there. my own definition of bravery is that one must overcome his own fears and therefore in fact be afraid to do something and yet do it. if you’re not afraid to be loud or honest or of potential reader reactions, then you are in fact not brave – no matter what the topic is.I am not even sure such a thing as “internet bravery” exists; that is my view based on people I have met in real life and what they have gone through and put up with everyday. nobody on the important internet will ever hear their story. it’s all wonderful to pat shoulders in internet communities, but sometimes I miss a bit of a reality check among the self-bravado. I will never consider any act of mine that requires me to push a publish button behind the safety (and anonymity) of my PC screen an act of true yeah, I second Rohan on the complicated topic ;)

Is it brave to get out of a bad marriage? Sit by a sick child? File a harassment suit? Stand up to a bully? It is not for any of you to judge the small acts of courage. Nor is it your task to heap guilt on the ones you don’t think are behaving in a courageous manner. That whole free-will thing and all that. We honor the heroes because they do step out way in front, but sometimes they step out in front because everyone else has taken five steps backwards.

I’ll let that one sink in.

It is facing what we fear. Say someone posts something difficult. We just read words. We don't see them. We can’t know if the person started crying after reading a response, or if their fingers were shaking before they hit publish. I do think we have all become a bit jaded when it comes to courage; we are fatigued as a world. Like an old fire horse who jumps out the door at the sound of the alarm, some of us still jump at the plea for help, and don’t turn our backs on others.

But heroes get tired, too. I always think of the opening exposition in The Incredibles when the hero is so weary, but still, wanting to be out in the fray, in the action, and he risks everything, especially the aggro-threat of wifely nagging. Oh, there is no sharper weapon than a woman’s disappointment.

We keep rehashing what I wish and feel should be done, and over. But maybe that is the essence of a cycle, a journey. It ends and begins again, with each generation trying to define their sense of community and involvement.  Where is the place for a paladin now? I keep remember my friend saying months ago, “We used to be kings of this world.” I wrote the Paladin’s Tale based on that comment. Washed-up, has-been, themes of former glory (just watch any Wes Anderson tale, especially The Royal Tenenbaums if you want stories of former glory and present-tense redemption.)

Keep Calm and Carry On, or as one Twitter-er’s avatar states, Keep Calm and Disengage, Oh Shit!

Azeroth lets us vicariously become heroes, just for a moment or two, if we so choose. One cannot extricate personal motivations from rewards that may result. There are no guarantees. So, does this mean that if we are also motivated by selfish reasons, our actions are any less heroic? Perhaps.  Heroes are complicated lots. The fewer dimensions they have, the shallower, the more they move away from the hero spectrum to static or flat character. Heroes only get interesting when we witness their inner turmoil and then –here is the critical piece –are made to feel an important part of helping them work through it. Heroism is all about the greater good. Kind of sucks during loot rolls, but works.

How many news stories have you read where someone just says, “I did what anyone would do.” And it is true. If someone can, most often, they will try to help. I believe this. Now, our choice of help and protest is befuddling to me sometimes. I am not sure what exactly triggers the protest of one young man, a tragedy, when so many are killed every day? Why does it take the one to speak for all? These are questions I will ask my entire life.

So, is our call to action to ask writers/bloggers to be honest and brave? Why, I wonder? Is it enough to be the reporter, the storyteller, or the provoker, in terms of getting  conversation and community together. I never even considered any post through the measuring stick of “is this writer brave or not?” Never even crossed my mind, unless it was a post like Apple Cider’s. That one will stick with me forever, and not just because it was brave, but because it was important. I will use her example in my professional and personal life. I do not expect or demand that writers share their personal stories with me –that is ludicrous. It is choice. If they want to, great—honor and respect. If they don’t- great. Honor and respect.

I have analyzed the role of a tank before, for my own clarification, and what I have to say is trite and tired. Tanks are there to make others look good. That’s it. The job requirements create a clear rubric: keep all from dying is the low-end of the scale, to make everyone succeed without noticing your presence.

What has happened though is that tanks made everyone look so good no one seems to need them anymore. Comments of “my HP is higher than the tank’s,” or “keep agro” and that no one seems to know what to do with a tank, exactly, they just know they need one, like the rationale for changing your underwear every day. You don’t know why you do, really, you just do. Or put on deodorant. You probably don’t stink that bad, but still…In professional lives, consider the really good supervisor, the one who organizes, boosts morale, knows when to give you the pat on the back or the gentle nudge. You learn to take them for granted. And then they get fired, demoted, or promoted, and then you realize how awesome you had it. If you’ve never had a good boss, I am sorry. They do exist, albeit rare. 

But are they “true heroes?” No. Not really. But on a concentric scale, yes, in my estimation. They are the players who make the game more fun, who are inclusive, and generous, and funny. But, they also enjoy the praise, too. All part of the hero hubris.

Ever hopeful, sweet Lupe
How cool would it be to give the “tanks” – wish there was another term for this role—a path of their own? Where they do have to save the day, prove their stamina, test their mettle? I don't want to be king of the world again, but I also don't want to have to slide off the ship's door into the icy depths to save some skirt. (Just kidding. I loved Titanic.) Maybe I want to be Rose and grab onto Jack, and live happily ever after, and not happily in the ever after-life.

But I now I shift to maudlin: when I look at this little brave tank I naively started, sometimes she breaks my heart. Really. Real tears time. There is no place for her, no motivation, she just does her job, her thankless job, and survives on parry moves and a great defense made from a wonderful offense. I read these two posts today:
and the other day:
and thought "Why should I efffing bother?" I mean -- look at the number chart on that second link! It's amazing! It's a rocket-science description of tanking when I'm still trying to find the constellations. See that? Over there? Yes. That's Orion's Belt. You'll never get it, because you can't raid. You're lame. And don't know what you're doing, and no one needs you. That star over there? That's part of the Superfluous Nebulae. Yeah, can't get there from here. A million light years away. But see, see what happens? That's my ego getting bruised, my motivation is off. If someone needs me, I'll be there for them. That's all.

I think this is one of the greatest acts of cowardice I have witnessed in a long time.  You can judge me, the story, or the entire series of tragic events. Waiting for a hero on this one.


  1. I think that like everything else "bravery" will vary from person to person. When my depression and nightmares are really bad, going outside requires facing fears on my part but to anyone who hasn't experienced either, they wouldn't see it as brave, pathetic perhaps but not brave.

    Because it's virtually impossible to wear someone else's shoes, especially on the internet where all we know about each other is what we choose to present, knowing what hurts and what doesn't, what was aimed as an arrow and what was merely an attempt at discussion is hard.

    We make mistakes about others intentions all the time. You see it in-game as well as on the blogsphere because without sound, words can convey all sorts of meanings. You can't always tell the joke without hearing the laughter in the speaker's voice for example. Without knowing the person behind the words, it's hard to say whether something is truly brave.

    Speaking from my own perspective, this last week in blogging has been horrible. My nightmares have come back with a vengeance and at one point, I nearly deleted both my blog and my twitter account. Depending on your view point, walking away could be brave, others might think walking away is the epitome of cowardice. Others yet might just see as it as crisis in a tea, neither one thing nor the other.

    And therein lies the problem.

    "in terms of getting conversation and community together"

    As shown by recent discussions, being brave and saying what you think tends to have the opposite effect on communities, causing splits as people pick sides and worse as the language devolves.

    To me, bravery suggests Knights (tanks?) in shining armour, people who stand up for what they know to be right even when the consequences are horrendous and people who run into burning buildings when everyone else runs the other way. It's the people who do the extraordinary and perhaps attempting to do that through the internet when you can always hide your true self in the shadows is impossible.

  2. Urggh

    This "crisis in a tea" is meant to read "crisis in a teacup" btw.

  3. Knights. That is the word I was looking for, thank you.

    See what you did? You gave me information and insight I didn't have before. We are all constantly navigating these relationships, our own identities, and the good and bad intentions of others. And you're right. I saw a lot of volatile, angry language, but I also witnessed cooler heads prevailing and remaining respectful and strong in their own voices. And perhaps you're right, the Internet will fail us all by design because of its very nature of a digital relationships. But maybe I am naive still: I still see a place and a generation that can change things through a Tweet or a post, sometimes harmful and evil, but sometimes revolutionary. And I think it's completely reasonable to not have our every thought and whim posted for the world to potentially see or judge. In fact, it's healthier. From what I read of your thoughts, I have respect for your insight and knowledge, and am grateful for your voice. It is your choice to delete or not, or to back away for a bit. Hiding in the shadows? Damn straight. There are my shadows, my passing thoughts, and I'll deal with them on my own time. Lots of questions, and I really appreciate your ideas, more than my response can convey.

  4. I knew what you meant, and I liked it! I just saw I left my raw "wookie" line on there I forgot to edit in my haste, so maybe we can mash it up and say "Tempest in a Wookie" or something like that!

    1. Now that's a title for a novel if ever I heard one.

  5. I agree with Erinys, there are so many stories like this that I read everything posted as fiction. If it's good fiction, I read it, if it's humorous, I read it.

    For all anyone knows I'm a fifteen year old boy with the Battlemaster title who loves cats instead of dogs ... not.

    1. Oh, I heard of that too. Fascinating, fascinating stuff. It made me look at my "About Me" verbage again. It's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm a 31-year-old correspondent for the Daily Show who likes to play video games. (

    2. I'm totally a cat, delicately smacking the keyboard with my cute and fluffy paws whilst smirking to myself about the inability of the average human to PvP.

      The picture on my blog is of my pet human. This also explains any and all spelling mistakes because every so often my claws get in the way whilst typing :(

    3. LOL! I read, "crisis in a tea" and thought it was a British expression I'd never heard before. Thank goodness you stopped me before I started using it everywhere.

      No wonder I can't PvP, you can NOT defeat a cat, impossible!


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