TV Review: No Heroics
Superheroes are cool. Not only can they do amazing things, but they’re the good guys. They save the day and look good doing it. Walking through the toy aisles of department stores, checking out the kids clothing sections, you’ll see that boys want to be Batman. Or Superman. Or Spider-Man. They look up to these heroes and look up to them. This can be a positive thing. These heroes extol the virtues of helping those in need and fighting that which is wrong. But should we be following anyone wearing a cape? Just because some one is a superhero, does this mean that they’re a positive role model? What if they’re like the heroes on No Heroics?
No Heroics is a British sitcom about four friends who hang out in a pub. Nothing unusual about that set up. The difference is, this pub is exclusively for off duty superheroes. Our four friends are: The Hottness, who can control flame; Electroclash, who can talk to machines; Time Bomb, a retired superhero who can see a minute into the future; and She-Force, who is super strong. These heroes are at the bottom of the list and struggle to receive the honour and respect they yearn for.
These heroes, however, aren’t exactly poster children for virtue. The Hottness is in it for the fame and for the girls. His overeagerness and pompousness paint him as a try hard and a sleaze. Damsels in distress would rather reject him than be saved by him. Electroclash is a hero because her parents were heroes. She doesn’t care about righting wrongs and protecting those in need. She cares about where she’s getting her next pack of cigarettes from and getting a few laughs. It’s no wonder she spends so much time before the discipline board. Time Bomb is burnt out by his experiences as a black ops superhero. He spends his retirement indulging in alcohol and homosexual sex, trying to avoid committing suicide. She-Force, the nicest of the group, is overly clingy and emotional, unable to form lasting relationships with potential boyfriends.
To further emphasise this public/private distinction, Britain’s greatest hero, Excelsor, is a bully who lords his popularity over the other heroes and belittles them. He is the kind of hero who will crush an international drug smuggling ring, just so he can use the confiscated ecstasy tablets for a fun Saturday night.
These are not heroes to follow. These are not role models to look up to and emulate. Yet they’re the kind of people we hold up as heroes in the real world. They’re the sport stars who’s posters adorn the walls of teenage boys across the country, yet are embroiled in drug abuse and sexual assault. They’re the pop stars who are girls dress like and sing along to who throw themselves at the party life style and do anything to make sure they’re on the cover of Woman’s Weekly each week. We’re all looking for heroes. But not all heroes are worth following.
The message here is two fold. Firstly to those who are heroes. And I’m not talking about those wearing capes (though I have been known to do that on several occasions). As a children’s and youth minister, I’m very much aware that kids and young people look up to me. I look at these young people and see them acting in certain ways and doing certain things and think to myself “they got that from me”. I was talking to a parent at Church over morning tea. I can’t remember what I said, but the parent stopped, looked me in the eye and said “So that’s where he got that from!” Her and her husband had been trying to work out where their 12 year old son had learnt a phrase that he’d been using often. He’d picked it up from me. (It’s okay, it wasn’t anything controversial or rude. It was just an everyday expression). I’m sure you can think of many examples in your own life. And it’s not just with children and youth. If you are in ministry, people will look up to you. They will listen to what you say, they will watch what you do, and they will emulate. Will they follow you when you act inappropriately or will they follow you when you follow the example of Christ?
That leads into the second message. If we’re looking for heroes, why don’t we look for the best example? Why don’t we look towards the one hero who was without blemish? Why don’t we look to the one hero that is without sin and always did the right thing? Why don’t we look to the one hero who lay down his life so that everyone may be saved for eternity? We are called to follow Jesus. We are called to live lives that bring glory to God. Christ is the example. He is the one who shows us what it means to honour and glorify God. The heroes of No Heroics are flawed, sinful people. Following their example will only lead sinfulness. Following the true hero of creation, the champion over sin and death, will lead to an everlasting relationship with God and life eternal. Which hero would you rather follow?