On Ideal/Real Men as Heroes 

      Two incidents brought this blog topic to mind. The first was my friend laughing at me for always, in our conversations, referencing Jack Bauer of “24” (portrayed by Kieffer Sutherland, who I still ADORE after all these years. He will always be Jack Bauer to me. Lol.) The second was reading the narrator’s description of Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch (good luck remembering the spelling!) in Dostoevsky’s The Possessed (The Devils). 
So why do I like Jack Bauer so much, even when he cold-bloodedly killed, assassinated, mutilated his enemies? Of course he is the “good guy” in the series. I know Jack Bauer is not a unique action “hero”; most action heroes are just like him: tough, cool, gentle with women and children, and merciless with bad people. (So I guess I like Jack Bauer because he’s Kieffer Sutherland!) 
Today I found the answer in Dostoevsky’s description of Nikolay:
 “Stavrogin would have shot his opponent in a duel, and would have faced a bear if necessary, and would have defended himself from a brigand in the forest as successfully and as fearlessly as L—n, but it would be without the slightest thrill of enjoyment, languidly, listlessly, even with ennui and entirely from unpleasant necessity. “
     “Without the slightest thrill of enjoyment…and entirely from unpleasant necessity. “
To me this is what distinguishes a real man from a child or a bully. When a real man defeats his enemy in a REAL fight, as in battle, (not in sports nor any game,) he does not gloat. He does not laugh. He does not feel proud at having killed another human being. Rather to him, it’s an “unpleasant necessity.”
There are bad people. “Bad” as society have judged them — the likes of former dictators who died a brutal death in the hands of their own people. The people’s anger is justified, but I find very disturbing that one can laugh about the very violent and public death of these people. If you find joy in killing a murderer or in watching his violent death, what makes you different from him?
Jack Bauer never smiled nor laughed after killing his enemies. You can say he’s a fictitious character. True. So is Nikolay. But why are these characters created? With fiction being based on reality, is it because there are REAL men like Jack Bauer and Nikolay? Or is it because these are what we hope our heroes should be?
Only a child or a bully (an adult with the mentality of a child) or a sick person, can smile or laugh at the death of his enemy.
Real men/women, tough men/women would not find the “slightest thrill of enjoyment” in defeating them.

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11 thoughts on “On Ideal/Real Men as Heroes 

  1. Now. where was I?
    You came to mind recently and I thought of this (Jack), which, in turn, got me thinking: ‘the last season was only 12hrs, and Jack isn’t going to die in Russia; he should be back soon, seeing as Trump is President and this is a FOX TV Show intended to keep us scared when a republican owns the white house, because they (FOX) are, in reality, a propaganda network.
    Then I read an article on BBC that Kenya protested about scenes depicting the Westgate Shopping Mall massacre in Nairobi. Bang. Jack’s back. Just in time to support Trump’s ‘terrorists are poised to kill us all’ fear-monger-war-monger rantings against Arabs and muslims.
    That’s some coincidence. Jack always shows up when a president needs to ‘suspend’ the rule of law. But you get cozy evenings with your hero and a glass of fine wine, so it’s worth it somehow. You owe Trump: he brought Jack back.

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  2. Hey There. What you write about real men not gloating after a fight is so true. I love Jack Bauer too. He’s real. When a problem comes up, he doesn’t shout wtf! He comes up with a new plan on the spot, always seeming to have a card up his sleeve. How he reacts when that computer guy dies in Season 2 is a good example. Thanks for this post. I’m glad to have stumbled upon on it. To add, Bruce Lee shares the same ideal in his book The Tao of Gung Fu. I think you’ll like it.

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  3. There are many competing archetypes for killers — as many perhaps as there are for real men, with plenty of overlap between. The disengaged, strictly professional killer or assassin is one, who merely executes orders and in need acts as as judge and jury as well. James Bond is one such archetype. The problem I have, when one ventures beyond entertainment into the real world, is that killing ought not to be merely means to an end, an administrative action undertaken with banality and remove. Lethal force is serious stuff, and when unpleasantly necessary, must include a moral component notably lacking in destroyed souls. That’s why those who have actual experience in war often come back damaged: their souls are still intact. Mercenaries who lack compunction may seems like real men, but in reality, they’re probably criminal insane. Probably still makes for compelling entertainment, though.

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    • Thanks for the comment. I have not met or spoken with anybody who I know to have killed somebody. But I have met a lot of people who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt others and gloated about the plight of their “enemies.” These are the ones I think who lack the “moral component” you mentioned. It’s not only those who use “lethal force.” Perhaps my use of Jack Bauer as an example merely shows my fascination with the character. But I don’t think I’d ever meet such a man in reality.

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  4. Nice post. I wanted to save it for over the holidays but I took a peek and it hooked, and reeled me in. I like Jack too, but I’d prefer that kind of intensity as a novel, because it grips your visual sense, but your portrayal of an audience enjoying an ‘act of justice’ reflects our tolerance level as a society: the things we should abhor have become entertainment. But hey, Jack is a sexy guy who gets the job done seriously; what’s not to like? Chloe! She never laughs either.

    I’ll be back. To read this again. It’s good.
    Merry Xmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I always covered my eyes or looked away during the violent scenes. (I know. What’s the point of watching, right?) But I really can’t stand watching such scenes. I’d rather the camera focus on facial expressions rather than the actions. Lol. Sorry this isn’t very Christmassy, but I’m honored you read it.

      Merry Christmas! 🙂

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