June of 1998 when I heard that Roy Rogers had died, I had an empty feeling deep
down in my gut. The "King of the Cowboys" was not a relative of mine. In fact, I
never met him. But I felt a loss nonetheless. I lost something almost as
important as a relative or friend – I lost a hero. In this day and age the right
kinds of heroes are scarce. I say the right kind of hero because the
concept of a hero has gone through a disappointing metamorphosis over the last
When I grew up, heroes wore white hats representing the light of truth and
purity, while the bad guys wore black hats symbolic of darkness and evil.
Today’s pop culture pundits will argue that those images are overly simplistic,
since there is good and evil in everyone. Even so, blurring black and white into
a sea of gray can easily confuse children at an age when they are still trying
to sort out right from wrong.
hero of mine was entertainment legend, Steve Allen, whom I got to know quite
well. Steve once told me that the movies played an important part in his
upbringing. As a child he learned a great deal from his silver screen heroes,
like Gary Cooper. “I grew up without a father, so these men were my role
models.” “They taught me how to treat a lady,” he reminisced.
To me a hero is anyone, whether in a movie or in
real life, who performs an extraordinary, spontaneous act of bravery or
sacrifice. The old expression “heroes are not made they are born” is simply
untrue. There is no hero gene that gets passed down from generation to
Present day heroes – both on and off screen – seem conflicted when faced with
the allures of sex, money and power. Too many of today’s film stars have spent
time in jail or drug rehab, while others have died from excessive indulgences.
Today, moral clarity in entertainment is more obscure than at any other time
in history. Violence, profanity and illicit sex are creeping into more PG-rated
movies. Television is no more pure. The average TV/PG television sitcom hero is
likely to spend the night with his girlfriend, lie through his teeth to save his
“reputation,” or turn the air blue with cursing to demonstrate his manliness.
How many of today’s television stars would end their weekly episodes like Roy
did with, "Good-bye, good luck, and may the good Lord take a liken’ to you."?
I confess that I am more than a little apprehensive when I survey the
so-called heroes in film and television that might influence my grandchildren .
. . which begs the question: Where have all the heroes gone? Is virtue
disappearing from the silver screen?
Over the years the perception of a hero has
changed; so too has the role of the hero changed in American cinema. Once upon
a time big screen heroes, like those that influenced Steve Allen, spoke to our
dreams and aspirations and modeled virtuous behavior. Over the past several
decades we have been living in the age of the anti-hero, where the role model is
a gang member who gets away with killing others who are more corrupt than he is;
or a thief who ends up with the stolen jewels and the girl living on the
Riviera; or a rogue cop who has turned vigilante in order to do the job of an
criminal justice system.
Filmmakers claim that movies are merely
fantasies, and the stories and characters on the screen have no impact on
movie-goers. Louis B. Meyer, co-founder of MGM, was the first to deny that
movie messages impacted the public. He said, “If you want to send a message,
call Western Union.” If it is true that a 2 hour movie does not influence
behavior of moviegoers, how can television networks demand $2.3 million for a 60
second commercial during the Super Bowl, claiming the message will influence the
buying habits of the public? Over six thousand comprehensive studies have
documented the fact that there is an undeniable connection between social
behaviors portrayed in movies and on television and their impact, for good or
evil, on society. This is especially true with young people.
There may be some hope. The number of heroes and positive role models in
movies and on television is on the rise. Recently, there has been an influx of
movie super-heroes, like
Fantastic Four, etc. Not all of them, however, exemplify the best
attributes of a role model, especially where language is concerned. Walt
Disney’s 2004 hit, “The
Incredibles” on the other hand represented all the elements of true
heroism. It was especially nice to see that every member of the Parr family had
something unique and special to contribute. This season, NBC will try and make
hay with the popular superhero trend with the new “Heroes” series.
Superheroes are not terribly inspiring to young people, because they are
difficult to emulate. The message they send is that “in order to be heroic, you
have to have super powers.” I’m much more inclined to favor stories that more
closely represent my definition above; “ordinary people doing extraordinary
film we can recommend without qualification is “Everyone’s
Hero,” coming to a theater near you on September
15th. This is an inspirational tale of a young lad who sets off on a
quest to restore his family’s honor. This top quality CGI animated film is
voiced by none other than William H. Macy, Rob Reiner, Raven-Symone, Whoopi
Goldberg, Brian Dennehey, Jake T. Austin, Mandy Patinkin, and Dana Reeve. The
project was first launched by a real-life
hero, Christopher Reeve before his untimely death. His wife Dana, lived long
enough to voice our hero’s mother.
The backdrop for this compelling story is the
1930’s New York Yankees and baseball great, Babe Ruth. But, no matter your age
or interest, you are sure to be enthralled by “Everyone’s Hero” and its message,
that there is a hero within each of us. All we have to do is have faith in
And so, the moral of this story is…heroes are hard
enough to define and even harder to find and that’s what makes them so special.
We can take heart; as long as there are people who care enough to produce high
quality, uplifting, inspirational stories like “Everyone’s Hero.”
Who’s Your Hero?
and tell us about your favorite hero and what it is
about him or her that inspires you. We will publish the
top 5 responses on our website and they will also appear
on the official website for “Everyone’s Hero” at
www.everyoneshero.com. The first 200
entrants will receive a Louisville Slugger “Everyone’s
Hero” mini custom bat and an “Everyone’s Hero” trading
Enter the "Who's Your Hero?" Contest
Note to Parents: The
information gathered such as name, mailing address and
email address of entrants will only be used to mail
prizes to the first 200 contestants. Neither The Dove
Foundation nor IDT Entertainment will use this list for
any other purpose. Winners will be identified publicly
by first name and city/state only.
Read Dove's Review of "Everyone's Hero"
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encourage and promote the creation, production,
distribution and consumption of wholesome family
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Copyright © 2006 The Dove Foundation. All rights