International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Hero Wanted
Dan Crossen is looking for
times at the moment are troubled. It seems that the media wishes
to spread a message of fear among the population. After a long
day at work you sit on the couch after having just come in and
flick on the 6 o'clock news. More violence, more disease, more
knives on the streets, more things for us to be afraid of. This
culture of fear is ultimately driven by a single factor. The fear
of the unknown. Its all well and good seeing all the bad things
that happen in the world from the safety of a comfortable sofa,
but it is the fear that many of these things could happen to us
that not only terrifies, but also intrigues.
Heroes is a television
show that that uses this fear of the unknown to entertain and to explore
the human mind, how these people are perceived in the context of the
show tell us a lot about how we perceive the unknown fear that could
be lurking around every corner. How do you know your neighbour cant
spontaneously regenerate, or the milkman cant generate radiation
enough to devastate an entire city? The show basically follows the lives
of several people with superpowers including, as well as the above,
time travel, flight and super strength, in their fight not only to protect
their secrets, but to save the world.
It ties it all together nicely in a fictional organisation called The
Company. This organisation basically hunts down humans with special
abilities and puts a tracer on them in order to keep an eye out, or,
if they are dangerous, lock them up secretly underground never to see
daylight again. To me this idea of a Company is a way of
taking the matters of the unknown into our own hands, if we, the ordinary
people, can put some kind of control onto things we do not fully understand,
then it will become less of a threat. This mirrors the equally paranoid
society, forced into this state by constantly being told to be afraid.
Some examples, knife crime this year in London has been in the spotlight
of the media, telling people to be wary and always on the lookout for
potential offenders. As a result more police action is taken, or maybe
just reported on being taken, to ease our minds of this knife crime-wave
that again we do not fully understand. The emphasis is on simply stopping
the crime itself rather than making people aware of its cause. In Heroes,
The Company is the media, and the heroes are the unknown,
those issues we cannot fully grasp an understanding of because it is
so far removed from our everyday lives. The media in the modern world,
like The Company, control this unknown and use it for personal gain.
The company uses the heroes they capture to in turn capture more, and
the media will often use the manipulation of fear to make money or boost
their own political agenda.
Another storyline in the Heroes universe comes dangerously close to
some real-life parallels. Halfway through season 2 we find that one
of the villains is trying to unleash a deadly virus (stored by The Company,
surprisingly) in order to 'cleanse' the human race, as the virus is
powerful enough to destroy 92% of the worlds population. We even
see one of the main characters travel forward in time, to really hit
home the devastation something this powerful could cause by showing
us the dead bodies and the derelict cities left in its wake. In a time
where all it takes is the foolishness of a single person and the push
of a red button to incite a nuclear war, these images are almost an
eerie prediction of what the future could hold if we let it come to
Heroes, perhaps not so much the spirit of our times, but something that
shows the lack of it in the modern world, where something not understood
can simply be treated as dangerous and forgotten about by the majority.
In the future when they look back upon our time, as we look back on
the times in the past and sum them up in single word such as 'renaissance',
our word will be fearful.
Crossen Jan 2009
Dan is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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