The All-American Hero: Political Correctness or Historical Accuracy?
Our definition of what constitutes a hero has been continuously redefined the course of American history. Many have tried to define it as being a reflection of American culture and ideas. In his essay, "What Makes Superman So Darned American," Gary Engle suggests that superman is the ultimate American hero because his super powers are "the comic book equivalents of ethnic characteristics," which are vital to sustaining American culture. (page 678) Although Engle is correct about the importance of identifying heroes with their ethnic characteristics, the acceptance of all ethnic characteristics of today's heroes (which is the goal of political correctness) has become skewed. A hero today does not need to wear a fancy costume like Superman, but the portrayal must now be politically correct, even if that means changing the perceived ethnicity of that hero.
So what is the definition of a hero? Is it the person who has been fortune enough to have climbed the social and financial ladders of success? Is it our top athletes who have "sacrificed" so much of their childhood and teenage years in order to gain their five minutes of glory at the Olympic games? Or is the five-year-old, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who is suffering from leukemia? In "The Thematic Paradigm," Robert Ray gives two definitions. The outlaw hero – the adventurer, gunfighter, and wanderer – who stands for the typical American fantasy of self-determination, as well as the official hero – the lawyer, politician, and teacher – who represents the collective action and the objective legal process. (page 300) Despite the many definitions, it has usually consisted of an underlying tone of being successful in the face of adversity. To take it a step further, that adversity in America today has become the threat from terrorism. On September…

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