Many of us men growing up didn’t have the quintessential male role-models that our parents had growing up. I know my old man grew up in a time where men were of the type that you see personified in every World War II story. Back when men came home from work to have their wives service them while drinking a Gin Martini from a highball glass. There wasn’t any of this gender crisis that guys in Gen X and Gen Y had to grow up with.
If you look at the definition of a Generation-X or Generation-Y child, you get a different definition depending on where you look it up. I tend to see myself as an amalgamation of the 2 different subsets, from both but neither at the same time. It is our generation that inherited the hero worshipping ways of our parents.
Little did they know, it would cause such an identity crisis for the nation or that it would bring countless people together from multiple regions of the globe.
My case in point is this: If you went to any country on Earth and were wearing a Superman shield on your chest or even a Batman cowl (they don’t all have to be DC characters) how many people would know what it meant?
For me, having a totem that is a fictional character not only means that the character will always remain timeless as I grow older, but it also means that there are thousands if not millions of other people out there that have the same hero that I have.
When I was coming up in the world, it was about the Hulk. The eternal battle between the conscious mind and the id that Bruce Banner struggled with until he managed to master his ‘inner beast’ was one that almost every angst-ridden teenager can come to terms with.
It also had much to do with the plurality that we are allowed to exhibit as human beings. Not only was Bruce Banner a science nerd with a massive IQ, but as the Hulk his strength knew no bounds. That to me makes an awesome role model.
In recent years I’ve grown away from the surreal characters of my childhood and have adopted a few real, true to life, idols that I would take a bullet for. To me, the most influential person on my post adolescent development was Henry Rollins. The man has a work ethic that rivals that of any Catholic saint, and the drive to constantly learn and better himself through education and weight-lifting.
Rollins is also the reason that anyone out there in internet land is reading this blog right now. I owe my desire to write on that man alone. When I read Eye Scream or Solipsist for the first time, he blew my mind with the raw emotion and brilliant structuring (like a modern day Jack Kerouac). It was then that I fell in love with prose all over again.
No matter what someone could say about either of these people, fictional or real, they are two of the most prominent figures in my life. I shaped my personality to be more like these two people, and it changed me for the better.
Don’t doubt it though, there are those people out there that think that having a comic character as a role-model is an exercise in futility. These are same people that think that Michael Phelps or George W. Bush are heroes. By them picking an all too human idol, all they’re doing is setting themselves up for disappointment.
As for the real life people you should look up to…don’t ever pick someone that you yourself could never be. The whole point of a real world hero is that you personally see yourself as being that person in one point of your life. If you strive to be Jesus, you’ll just be that much more let down to know that once you’re dead…you’re dead.