the flawed hero

I have a confession to make, I love TV.  I love all of the shows that are in contention for Breaking Badawards.  I think the writing is brilliant, the acting is amazing and the storyline is gripping.  Something has fundamentally shifted in the way that TV shows are written.  This shift has begun to change our worldview, and quickly too I might add.

For the longest time TV shows used to follow a traditional story line.  There was a clear antagonist and a clear protagonist.  A few years ago I re-watched all seven seasons of MacGyver (fun at first, then painful).  Each and every episode ends with MacGyver beating whatever evil he was facing then turning his head and smiling into the camera.  There was a good, clear idea of good and evil.

Just recently we have seen the fruit of post-modern philosophy on the entertainment industry (Post-modern philosophy is a huge topic, so for the sake of brevity, I’ll define it as moral relativity or moral ambiguity.  There is no clear moral authority).  Think of all of the shows that have been hugely popular in the last couple of years.

For Example:

Mad Men:  Follows the exploits of advertising genius Donald Draper.  The writers of this show have you rooting for Don and even sympathizing for the man when his marriage falls apart.  They have you hoping that Don doesn’t get caught cheating.  The writers have you rooting for a cereal adulterer, what?

Breaking Bad: This show has you sympathizing for Walter White.  He is a low-income teacher trying to provide for his family when he finds out that he has inoperable lung cancer.   Knowing he is going to die, Walter decides to use his skills as a chemist and cook meth.  Then Walter rises to the top of the drug world.  The entire time the writers have you rooting for Walter, hoping he doesn’t get caught.

This brings us to Christopher Dorner.  The man who posted a hit list, killed three people and is on the hunt for every single police officer out there.   Yeah, that guy.  One of the disturbing trends that I am noticing is that there is a small contingency of people rooting for him.  Now, there is always someone willing to root for the bad guy in every story, but there are groups of people out there calling him a hero.  I was just listening the radio a few hours ago and people called him a, “hero” and “brave” for taking on the LAPD.

Do we actually buy this post-modernity?  Most people don’t believe that Dorner is a hero, but it is disturbing that there is a growing amount of people out there that do.  To me, this begs the question of what our moral future holds.  If this is just a small contingency now, in twenty years what will the basic moral question of killing someone look like?

Is there still a clear right and a wrong? Have we moved into the era of the flawed and even evil hero?  It seems to me that we are living in a time where teaching basic moral truths are more important now than ever.


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