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Where Are the Good Guys? Discuss

Is there such a thing as actual good guys anymore in comics, television, and movies?

Depending on your age, you may or may not remember a time when superheroes and heroes in general aimed at kids actually took moral stances on things like stealing, lying, cheating, and so forth. These days heroes barely seem to hold even life itself in very high regard.

What is a hero really? Is it just someone that can beat the living crap out of the bad guys? These days the line between bad guy and good guy is so faint about the only thing separating them is plain old murder.

I got to thinking about this after getting my hands on the new Shazam DVD release. I forgotten how nice and simple those episodes were that I had watched as a child back in the 1970's. Yes, they were simple, but they are still very enjoyable maybe just for that reason. The actors were good of course, but to me what makes the show stand out is the simple moral lessons each episode teaches.  One episode for instance focused on a kid who saw a robbery, but was too afraid to speak out to the police. Another episode featured a girl's attempts to save a horse from being put to sleep. One boy learns that his blind brother should be given a chance to do more for himself, and another teen learns that peer pressure can really get a guy into trouble and what's it like when someone steals from him the way his peers suggested he do to someone else.


 Buy Shazam! The Complete Live-Action Series

Would modern kids sit still for morals and down to earth storylines like this? I don't know, but to me the best thing about superheroes, sometimes, is how they relate to a real world situation. I guess most kids these days think real life means flesh eating zombies, blood splattering explosions, and so forth. Don't get me wrong, I'd be a hypocrite if I said I didn't enjoy watching the Walking Dead, but I wouldn't own that DVD set to watch over and over again. Shazam, I had to own right away, mostly for old time's sake, but like I said this is the kind of show I wished kids would watch today. There's just no balance, and no voice of reason for kids these days. Sometimes kids need to know real life problems are about simple mundane problems like dealing with peer pressure effectively.

An idealized hero should represent the best of us. They can't all be anti-heroes as enjoyable as they are, I admit. Superman, the Lone Ranger, and Captain Marvel are, or at least were great heroes because imaginary or not they stood for something. These days it's taboo to stand for anything unless it's some politically correct cause. Would it be so bad for a hero to be somebody a kid could look up, or at least aspire to? Real world heroes aren't perfect of course. They do have moral flaws, but perhaps an idealized hero should be perfect. After all an idealized fictional portrayal of an hero sort of sets the bar on what kind of moral goal society is shooting for. Every time I hear someone mock the idealized families of TV's old 1950's sitcoms, for example I think the critics miss the point. No person or family is perfect, but no TV show or fictional character is completely true to life. Whatever we watch over and over again on TV becomes an example in the back of our minds of what we think a family or person should be. The lower TV sets the bar for moral behavior the more kids that watch lower their expectations of their own moral behavior. The higher the morality the higher the expectations would be. Let's face it kids and grownups see more TV sometimes than they see real people in the flesh. They are more up to believe in Hollywood stereo types than real life versions of the people they see. Wouldn't it better if they had examples to inspire positive attitudes verses negative ones?

These days even in history class teachers are looking more for what they think our founding fathers did wrong, than what they did right even if they got to make things up to make them appear more flawed.

Back to superheroes, to me it's all the more cool and impressive to see a hero like the Lone Ranger that only drinks milk whoop up on a bunch of saloon drunkard tough guys. That makes the character stand out. So what if another jerk beats up another jerk. Some heroes, at least, should be of superior moral character. I mean don't get me wrong, Wolverine is awesome and so's Dirty Harry, but every hero shouldn't be just about fist fighting and blowing away the bad guys. Some ought to be known for their character.

Here's video featuring the intro bumpers and a moral lesson from Shazam.

 

Lone Ranger and Tonto Actors Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels both took their positions as role models to children very seriously and tried their best to live by the Lone Ranger creed, a strict moral code put in place by  Fran Striker at the inception of the character.

The Lone Ranger's Creed
By Fran Striker

1. I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.

2. That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.

3. That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.

4. In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.

5. That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.

6. That "this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people," shall live always.

7. That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.

8. That sooner or later... somewhere... somehow... we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.

9. That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone lives on forever.

10. I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.


Do you think there's any chance the new Lone Ranger might even hint to this creed? Probably not. We wonder why kids have no morals. I have to wonder is it because grownups are too afraid to put value on morality. If morality is believed to be too corny for our heroes, then how do we expect kids to respect or desire to live up to any sort of moral standard either?

Where is Mr. T when you need him? They should give him another full blown action show. Back in the 80's the A-team loved their machine guns, and violence. But it was ok because nobody ever got killed, and Mr. T was telling kids all across the world to drink milk, be kind to your mother, stay in school, etc.

Treat Your Mother Right Video with Mr. T
 

Sure it's funny, but hey if the message sinks in to treat your mother right, then great, right.

 

What about Superman? Even though George Reeves' personal life may have been a little wild to say the least, was there ever any doubt to children at the time watching the Adventures of Superman that the Man of Steel was a man of high integrity and honor?

Even in the 90's Dean Cain's Superman never had sex with Lois Lane till they were married. Of course that wasn't the case for the Christopher Reeve in Superman II, or Tom Welling on Smallville. Although, we still had an image of Clark Kent being a man who always tried to do the right thing at least on Smallville, and Christopher Reeve's Superman wasn't afraid to stand for truth, justice, and the American way. More emphasis has been put on making heroes either more relatable or more dark and gritty these days than has been put on making heroes actually heroic.

I have no problem with Batman running around, or scaring bad guys with a grimace that never quits and a voice that always sounds like he swallowed a bunch of marbles, but Superman should always be the patriotic Super Boy Scout that loves America and believes in her founding doctrines even if everyone else on the planet lost faith in the good old US.

Even Batman in Adam West's day as silly as he was portrayed always had something very idealistically moral to say for the kids at home.

Remember on the 1966 Batman movie when Bats had that bomb he had to get rid, and Robin was wondering why Batman went through so much trouble to save a bunch of drunks at a bar.

Quote Batman: They may be drinkers, Robin, but they're still human beings.

These days Batman is probably more drunk than those guys ever thought of, and Batman would let them blow up as long they were only permanently maimed and not totally killed.

More Batman Adam West Quotes

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to sound like a preacher. I just think there should be a balance. I don't think there's anything wrong with bad anti-heroes who love to fight for the heck of it. I love those kinds of heroes too, but where are the really good guys? Where are the moral characters that let kids know it's ok to drink that milk, or not listen to peers when they want you to take drugs or jump into that stolen car, or even ok to, perish the thought, wait till you're married to have sex?

I will admit though, I hate milk. I just had to say it. I would hate to be found out as a complete hypocrite. If I were a superhero I guess I'd have everybody drinking tea, or water.

 I'm just saying, one of these days I might have grand children, and you know what I think Shazam and the Lone Ranger might be the kind of shows I want them to watch.

What do you guys think? Should heroes be examples of truth and justice, or just focus on action and adventure killing everything that moves or breathes in sight?

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