JB Gadd

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James Bond: Hero with Swagger

Almost all of today’s Americans from ages 10 to 60 are able to accurately describe their very favorite James Bond scene in which a countless number of talented actors were depicted evading impossible situations and of course…getting the gorgeous girl.  James Bond is the epitome of a hero that employs physical as well as moral courage.  There are over 20 James Bond movies in circulation since the late 1950’s.  In each film, protagonist James Bond defies physics, gravity, common sense and the most of evil of villains with a wide array of gadgets and with an daunting aura of confidence.  I believe this aspect of Bond’s character leaves society with this sense of heroism towards Bond.  He is able to face such intense situations day in and day out without the blink of an eye.  Is that not what we all want in our heroes?  Someone that can defeat evil in its purest form and do so with apparent perfection.  Bond appears simply flawless in every aspect of his character from one movie to the next.  Whether Bond is taking down the infamous Dr. No or Goldfinger’s tyrannous reign, the viewer will ALWAYS find themselves on the edge of their seat rooting for the one and only Bond, James Bond.  This charisma surrounding Bond draws viewers and fictitious characters alike to him without fail and only adds to his heroic quality.  Society is drawn to that “cool” sense of heroism in which little apparent effort is required to perform a task such as saving the world, or getting the girl (for the 25th time…)  The influence of James Bond is endless in that his character has spawned other comedic characters such as Austin Powers and Johnny English.  These examples only increase Bond’s popularity as a kick-ass hero and truly show the wide influence this epic character has upon the film industry as a whole.  The aspect of Bond’s hero that remains distinct is his innate ability to remain immune to the effects of time.  As a society, we tend to oust of heroes shortly after our hyped infatuation with their abilities or personality in general.  Clearly defined by the success enjoyed by Bond’s creator Ian Fleming, we see that Bond’s status as hero has only increased as time has passed.

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Tupac Shakur: Hero in Disguise

Some members of today’s society recognize the name Tupac Amaru Shakur while others simply know him as “2Pac” or “Pac”.  Shakur was a prominent West Coast gangster rapper of the 1990’s who transcended the restrictions placed on most of the musicians in Shakur’s line of work.  Tupac was born into a terribly troubled family in Harlem that was engulfed in serious legal issues from murder, sexual abuse and unthinkable prison sentences throughout Tupac’s adolescence.  Through this miserable upbringing, Shakur remained a positive influenced to those around him and continued his positive influence by spreading his message through his lyrics.  Many of his songs urge peace and prosperity amongst gangs and enemies alike.  The importance on Tupac may not be displayed through statistical analysis or other factual data but his message is clear to all of those exposed to his popular work.  Shakur’s influence was monumental during his period of popularity because he was able to use his fame and stature in order to promote good from coast to coast and across seas, wherever his tracks may land.  In comparison to other rappers of the 1990’s, Tupac created imaginative lyrics and an attractive persona, all-the-while preaching tolerance of race and freedom from discrimination.  While other rappers bragged on and on of drug life, murders and immoral lives in general, Tupac always remained the one constant through the headphones of the youths of America in the 1990’s.  The downfall of Shakur only adds to the public’s view of his heroism.  A drive-by assailant gunned him down following a boxing match in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Tupac Amaru Shakur was killed in the prime of his life with a booming career and an increasing influence on society as each day passed.  The tragic death of Tupac seemed to magnify his work as more and more people became aware of his music and thus his message of tolerance.  As the investigation continued, Tupac enthusiasts seemed to emphasize the messages preached by their hero and continued the legacy of freedom in place of their fallen idol.  Regarded as the first “socially conscious rapper”, Shakur is regarded as major opposition of police brutality, social injustice and poverty that seemed to encompass the community around him from birth until death.  Shakur grew from the deepest depths of evil and had the heroic ability to rise above and become a proponent for good.

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Spiderman: Friend or Foe?

Throughout American culture, people have historically attempted to classify nearly every influential individual as being either a hero or villain.  Most of the time this task is completed without question based on previous knowledge or an immense unexplainable vibe of good evil.  But what is to happen when society holds differing views of the same character?  You may view a specific individual as the essence of all that is wrong with the world while your next-door neighbor reveres this person for his or her influence on the world around them.  The most definite example of heroism and villainy debated is found in one of America’s most famous comic book heroes, Peter Parker and his alter ego, Spiderman.

The citizens of Manhattan, New York are viewed as flip-flopping often throughout Spiderman’s tenure as they find it difficult to determine the validity of the quasi-hero’s actions.  Spiderman is seen taking desperate measures and exploring personal interests through New York while fending off the multitude of bad guys.  However, these dangerous endeavors often cause some great catastrophe or other harm to persons of the city.  Due to this cause and effect parallel, the media portrays Spiderman as a hero on some days and blasts the costumed character as a villain on others.  I firmly believe that this unpredictable and uninformed portrayal of Spiderman in the media remains the major factor that shapes the mixed opinions of the public.  Citizens are seen as choosing sides for or against Spiderman as he attempts to continue to fight for what he believes is for the greater good.  This contrast of rewards and consequences forced onto society from Spiderman’s actions are continuously weighed and debated by viewers.  Whether the argument lies within one viewer or amongst Spiderman supporters and Spiderman scolders, this facet of Spiderman’s character provides immense depth and a much greater basis for analysis.

Upon further examination, the status of Spiderman’s true character seems to be fairly obvious to me.  I believe his true colors are shown throughout the plot in that his intentions are always seemingly innocent and are aimed to better the lives of Peter Parker’s loved ones.  Although the outcome may not always reflect the intention, it is the thought that leaves to label Spiderman as a hero rather than a villain.  In order to receive the “villain” title I feel that a character must be evil in nearly every facet instead of having more than a few unfortunate mishaps.  The hero in Spiderman shines through in his whole-hearted and selfless actions to save lives of those close to him as well as his willingness to protect the lives of unknown citizens of New York.

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“Iron Man”-Cal Ripken Junior

On September 6, 1995, a 65 year-old record thought impossible to break was indeed, shattered.  On that faithful night in Baltimore, Maryland, The “Iron Man” Cal Ripken Junior broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive Major League Baseball games played.  Voted as “The Most Memorable Moment” in Major League history, Ripken forever etched his name in the minds of baseball and sports fans alike for generations to come.  As if playing 2,131 consecutive games is not amazing enough, perhaps one would appreciate the domination that Ripken presented over the league during his time.  Voted as a 19 time All-Star, two time Gold Glove winner, eight time Silver Slugger winner, two time Most Valuable Player, World Series Champion as well as a mess of other coveted awards, Ripken is clearly the game’s most decorated and beloved player in history.

Is that not what we want in our heroes?  As imperfect beings, we love nothing more than to admire an individual that effectively presents himself as physically as well as morally courageous.  Today’s baseball fans vividly recall the trot around the outskirts of the field as Ripken talked and touched every fan seated within the first couple rows.  Managers, players, owners, fans, athletes and little boys and girls revere the unyielding persistence in Ripken’s nature.  There is no way of knowing the amount of nagging injuries suffered by Ripken.  This hero played a physically demanding sport in the heat of the summer, against younger men, against stronger men, at it’s highest level and without stopping. How simple could it have been for Cal Ripken Junior to rest his muscles in his first season?  His fifth season? His fifteenth season?  It was not until his 17th season in Major League Baseball that Ripken voluntarily removed his name from the Baltimore Orioles starting lineup.  Ripken won the hearts of all he contacted by some sort of unexplainable charisma.  He remained a silent leader, a hero who drew admiration from the most talented of players.  More common heroes overcome some sort of obvious obstacle or triumph over a tragedy or stronger opposition.  The beauty of Ripken’s heroism lies in the fact that his opposition was merely invisible.  Without a complaint, without a whence, Ripken played through pain and anguish while America watched number 8 smile away on the left side of that infield.

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