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It’s the summer of movie superheroes – Iron Man, Superman and Lone Ranger, to name a few – but some in America argue the fascination with heroes needs to go away.
“From the biblical narrative of David defeating the giant Goliath, to the historical account of Joan of Arc leading the French army to victory over Britain,” writes Susanna Bair in a Huffington Post column last week, “the classic hero archetype is that of a lone warrior fighting the forces of evil and prevailing. Being that society reveres this archetype as the ideal, I find it problematic and suggest that we rethink it.”
Bair is co-founder of the Instituted for Applied Meditation on the Heart and the I AM University of the Heart. Her column argues that the “hero archetype” tends to be divisive, rather than empowering.
“First, it divides life into a black and white picture of good and evil, and in doing so, it justifies violence,” she writes. “We consider our soldiers to be heroes but consider soldiers of the enemy camp to be murderers. The reverse is true, however, for the opposing side. So who is right?”
For Molotov Mitchell, producer of the inspiring new WND-TV show “Zero to Superhero,” however, the answer to her question is simple: There is good and evil, and the hero is the one fighting for the good.
That’s why Mitchell is working with one would-be hero who isn’t buying Bair’s argument either: Jeeves Urquhart.
The star of “Zero to Superhero,” Urquhart is a 341-pound everyman tired of being overweight and working dead-end jobs. His goal is to become a hero – on purpose. Now he’s working with Mitchell, a trainer in the Israeli defense and combat technique Krav Maga, to get whipped into shape and then do the same to the streets of Durham, N.C.
“After he’s lost the weight, after he’s a proficient fighter, Jeeves plans to patrol the streets of Durham, reporting crime and assisting people in need,” Mitchell explains. “Personally, I love the idea of citizens striving to better their communities. I love seeing people grow. That’s why I teach hand-to-hand and firearms classes, to help people defend themselves. I really want people to be safe and healthy, and this seemed like a great way to do both of those things in a way that could inspire viewers.”
The “Zero to Superhero” experiment seem fly in the face of what Bair claims is the second problem with the heroic narrative, namely that it is “irrelevant and inapplicable to those but a scant few – thereby doing nothing to inspire or empower most of us.”
She quotes Michael Delli Carpini, Ph.D., Dean of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, who explained, “Most people have experienced or at least witnessed injustice; most people feel powerless to do anything about it; most people sense a kind of institutionalized indifference to these circumstances; most people crave simple black and white answers to complex issues; and most people, I suspect, while basically rules-following and civil, would like, every once in a while, to just punch the evildoer in the nose.”
But Urquhart takes issue with the idea that the heroic narrative “does nothing to inspire or empower” in the face of witnessed injustice. And he is done being part of the “institutionalized indifference.”
“All you have to do is look at the nightly news,” Urquhart explains in the “Zero to Superhero” trailer. “Here in America, we’ve never been so lost as a culture. People are worried. They’re fearful for the future. They yearn for a real superhero. I aim to become one. And you’re coming with me!”
The trailer for “Zero to Superhero” can be seen below:
Bair concludes her column by stating, "When we move into a challenge instead of run from it, each one of us can activate the hero within."
Here, at last, is a sentiment Mitchell and Urquhart can agree with.
"I'm hoping that 'Zero to Superhero' will inspire more people to put down the pizza, turn off Jerry Springer and do something with their life," Mitchell told WND. "Get in shape, if not for you then for your loved ones! And do something for your community. Make a difference! If Jeeves can do it, so can you."