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:~: Friday, January 11, 2008 :~:

What Would Your Hero Do?

Last night, I caught a few minutes of Notorious on the Biography channel. I’d seen the episode, about a daughter accused of helping her boyfriend kill her mother, once before, and the scene I walked in on last night was one the DH and I had talked about the first time around.

Backstory: The teenagers brutally murdered the mother, then left in her van, using the ATM card for money to fund a multi-state ride across I-10. They were finally stopped after a high-speed chase in Texas, in a county where the sheriff (not sure if he’s still in office) prides himself on keeping crime and those who err on the side of it out of his territory. So when he and other officers attempted to stop the van, the teens made an egregious error.

They didn’t stop.

Translation: I’m defying your authority. Heck, I’m giving your authority the finger, with both hands.

The sheriff and his deputies made them stop.

So the video . . . deputies have the two boys, suspected of carving up a woman, out on the side of the highway. They’re prone, about to be cuffed. The sheriff walks over and plants his boot in the driver’s ribs. Not a toe-first kick. A flat, tight, boot-to-the-ass kick. He did not commence to whup up on the boy, as my fifth period freshmen would put it. One very controlled, well-placed, I’m-top-dog-and-don’t-you-forget-it, you-don’t-run-from-me-in-my-county kick and he stepped away.

My first thought was “day-um.”

My second was, “If I let Tick or Cookie or whoever do that and subbed to a crit group, people would be screaming about non-heroic actions.”

What about realistic actions? We like cop heroes because they’re masculine and tough, men who live on the edge of danger. And sometimes real men who are masculine and tough, men who live at the fringes of danger, will plant a boot on your ass if you piss them off.

Example: High speed chase on the interstate, several city officers and county deputies involved. Two of the deputies are brothers with a close bond. The suspect rams the side of one’s car, sending his unit rolling several times down an embankment. Because the brother is the officer closest to the suspect now, he must stay in the chase. As medics and other officers race to check on his brother, he continues the pursuit. Finally, the suspect is stopped. The brother gets to him first and drags him from the car. Still unsure of his younger’s brother fate, he slams the suspect down on the hood of his own patrol unit to search and cuff him, probably a little harder than necessary, while snarling, “That’s for hitting my brother.” He didn’t shoot the guy or punch him or beat the snot out of him, all of which he told us later he wanted to do.

So, reigning in adrenaline and anger is heroic, right?

I think, as a reader, I forgive a lot. I mean, come on. I love Rhett Butler. Can’t make myself read the book again, but I love Rhett. He’s a cad. A scoundrel. Not hero-material.

And I firmly believe if you made the mistake of running from him, he’d place a boot to your ribs.
What realistic, yet borderline-unheroic behavior will you forgive your favorite heroes?



Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

I can forgive a lot as well. I love unheroic heroes. They have the best character arcs.

And this is a great topic as I have a hero in an upcoming book who is going to (have done) something very unheroic in his backstory. He feels bad about it because it went against his personal code of ethics, but he'd do it again without a second thought.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

See? Sounds like my kind of guy! Sounds intriguing, E.

7:25 AM  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

I don't see the behavior as having anything to do with the person's heroism. I mean, if the guy goes around kicking every suspect regardless, that's just mean, but after spending time chasing these morons through the streets--all the while in danger of running over someone or getting killed themselves--I think a kick to the ribs or the butt is perfectly in line. In your example of the brother, I think it would be uncharacteristic if he didn't treat the criminal with a little extra force.

But that's just me.

7:28 AM  

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