Comfort when your hero "dies."
November 13, 2016 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Snowflakes inside.

I called my dad tonight because he has a sister in Louisiana. I'm not close to his side of family and I wanted to ask if he would call her and talk to her about voting for Foster Campbell in the December election. I didn't ask my dad who he voted for in the presidential election. I suspected he hadn't voted at all because he tends to be ambivalent about politics and also because he lives in CA, where the vote was going to go to the Democrats no matter his vote or lack thereof.

My dad was the man who hired illegal immigrants to work on his construction team because he believes in the rights of all to work and provide for their families. Even today he doesn't believe in borders. He is the man who doesn't quite "understand" being queer, but doesn't care what others do since it doesn't harm him at all. I have seen him speak up when another man made a sexist joke. He instilled some good values in me. He was my definition of "salt of the earth." He was a peaceable man. I didn't ask, but at some point in the conversation, he revealed that he voted for Trump. Mostly because he just couldn't vote for Hillary.

He is not and can no longer be the hero he was my whole life. As it is for so many of us, this election is more personal than any other I've experienced. I'm grieving this, when I never expected I would have to. What I'm looking for is help as I confront how vulnerable this has made me feel and as I rebuild my strength. Specifically, I would love quotes, cartoons, essays, narratives (links or your own experiences) about:

Being disillusioned by our heroes (it would be extra wonderful if the narrative included coming out the other side of everything with more personal strength)
Musings on putting the yoke of "hero" around (imperfect) humans
Looking inward to be one's own hero
The empowerment that comes from not having heroes
What people choose as their alternatives to having heroes

I'd like to avoid too much cynicism. Humor is always a plus. Thank you so much in advance, MeFites. <3
posted by weeyin to Human Relations (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
[A couple deleted. Sorry, but Ask Metafilter isn't for back and forth chat, and let's please stick to the actual question, which is pretty far down the post, but here it is: OP wants quotes, cartoons, essays, narratives about being disillusioned by our heroes. See the bottom of the post for full details.]
posted by taz (staff) at 11:04 PM on November 13, 2016

Kingdom Come, a DC graphic novel by Mark Waid and Alex Ross is very good, and deals with some of these themes.
From Wikipedia: " This Elseworlds story is a deconstructionist tale set in a future that deals with a growing conflict between the visibly out-of-touch "traditional" superheroes, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes, in many cases the offspring of the traditional heroes."
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:46 PM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Musings on putting the yoke of hero on an imperfect human, and people's need for the same is more or less the main theme of Life Of Brian.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:46 AM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is a theme in Middlemarch; both Dorothea and Lydgate enter marriage with profound illusions about their partner (and Dorothea is worshipful in the way you suggest) and are transformed by being disillusioned. Lydgate is transformed in a much sadder way but Dorothea's growth is more optimistic.

Washington Square is also about this, although again it is less optimistic than it could be. Catherine Sloper adores her father at the start of the novel and, by the end, she doesn't. It's not exactly a happy ending but she certainly becomes a stronger person over the course of the novel.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:51 AM on November 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I can't find the exact quote, but when you lose someone you respect the best you can do is to incorporate what you admired most into yourself.
posted by plinth at 6:14 AM on November 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

The very first thing that popped into my head was the song No More Heroes by The Stranglers, but that seems inadequate to address such a personal blow (even though it's a great song).

For some reason, the graphic novel Fun Home by Alison Bechdel popped into my head with this question. Her memoir mostly centers around the complicated and often unsatisfactory relationship she had with her father, really diving into all of his shortcomings as a person but also examining how he had shaped her as a person. Lots of positives and negatives and grey areas. It was a really good read and it might help deal with some of the hurt and conflicting emotions you're feeling. There's also apparently a musical version of it, but I don't know much about it.

And finally, a quote from my favorite TV show of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

"Now that's everything, huh? No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what's left?"


Good luck.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:25 AM on November 14, 2016 [7 favorites]

"Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee is a very good book that struggles with this question, tries to answer, and kind of fumbles it. But that's because there are no good answers. Just struggle. It's a valuable read, and the more you admire Atticus Finch, the more valuable it is.
posted by rikschell at 7:45 AM on November 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

The song "My Hero" by Foo Fighters immediately came to mind.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:41 AM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

He is not and can no longer be the hero he was my whole life

Try not to judge him too harshly. He sounds as if he has been an amazing mentor and Father for your whole life. This is not to be taken lightly.

This election has been so very polarizing for everybody. I don't even live in the States and have had so many conversations with people who have SHOCKED me with their views, shocked me and rocked me to my core.

Ultimately he made a decision on voting day. It could be a mixture of so many things, fear, confusion, hatred for Hillary.

Don't judge him so harshly for that one choice given that he has proven and demonstrated in so many other ways that he is a good guy.
posted by JenThePro at 11:59 AM on November 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think of that song "breathing under water" by Metric:

They were right when they said we should never meet our heroes

Every single human being is flawed up close. Every single one. Sometimes when Michelle talks about Obama you can tell she's tired of his dad jokes or forgetting to do that thing she asked or whatever. Sometimes I find myself annoyed by the Buddhist monk at my temple. The monk at my temple.

Every single person is flawed up close.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:45 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's oblique, but Jeanette Winterson's The Passion follows a young soldier through worship of, and then disillusionment with, Napoleon.
posted by orangejenny at 5:50 PM on November 14, 2016

Imperfect Heroes: "We now demand perfection from our heroes. And when they then fail, as surely they must if perfection is the standard, we reject them with disdain. When we see that they have feet of clay, we not only push them off their pedestals, we fail to heed the lessons that can be learned from flaws and mistakes."
posted by WCityMike at 6:49 PM on November 14, 2016

I had a similar disillusionment, albeit to a lesser extent. A dear friend voted for Trump. And got pretty darn cynical & defensive about it afterwards. I was heartbroken. And just plain bewildered.. I managed to reconcile those two by convincing myself that
(1) she didn't think Trump would win - hence the defensiveness.
And (2) that she just didn't take all the hate seriously. That it was just a grouchy old man blowing off steam but that would never actually act upon those things. You and I may have plenty of evidence to the contrary. But she didn't. She trusted her news source (Fox) to tell her the truth and she based her decision on that. Not to mention, she was fed plenty of info that Hillary was bad, evil, devious.

My friend would never do anything to harm another human being. And she naively assumed her candidate would have the same sense of common decency.

I hope that helps.
posted by Neekee at 8:01 PM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but it helped me come to terms with what you describe. I thought my close relative's Trump vote was all about racism and anger, but the article I linked to framed it a bit differently - and honestly. It allowed me, for a moment at least, to suspend my judgement and anger long enough to think critically about the whole thing.

Wish I had something more positive.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:21 PM on November 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

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