Friday, September 13, 2013

Heroes and Monsters

“Whether you call someone a hero or a monster is all relative to where the focus of your consciousness may be.”
Joseph Campbell goes on to compare this with a German soldier and an American sent to kill him. Depending on which you view as the “good guys”, they are the ones in the right. Being American, I see the American as the one in the right for killing a German soldier. But, if you think about it, as Joseph Campbell and his interviewer did, this German soldier is as much of a hero as the American. He is fighting for what he believes as a worthy cause, and even if he was forced into his position he still fought and died a hero’s death. The same goes for the American. He may have been forced into his line as well, and he may not have wanted to kill someone, and to him that is a despicable deed, painting him as the “bad guy”.

Good and bad are incredibly subjective. I have found, oftentimes, that in reading a book I am drawn more to the antagonists and their reasoning than the protagonist, with their often over-told and just plain boring, formulaic storyline. The antagonist undergoes incredible character development, forced into their way of thinking by some earth-shattering catalyst for them that flips the universe upside-down and makes them either hold on or slip and float into the abyss, going insane. As they go further and further into what the protagonist considers insanity, the antagonist is usually doing as much as they can to retain any semblance of humanity, and they are a tortured soul fleeing the remains of their life in search of something that may help them become, in their mind, better.
Well, at least that’s what happens if the book is any good.
But the point of good and evil fighting remains, and in many stories you wind up cheering for the serial killer, or the pirates, because you know their side and you agree with them, you think they’re correct in what they’re doing, and even if what they do is morally wrong, well, you understand that they had to. And then the navy, or the government, or the saviors are the ones persecuting you for doing what you must in order to survive, to not let the voices in your head, your past, come to the forefront of everything and swallow you whole.

In reality, you are both just doing your jobs.