James Robinson: Don’t look for heroes in Hollywood

The recent sex scandals which have swept Hollywood are a good reminder that our society rarely bestows hero status on the right people.

Actors, directors, pop stars and myriad other ‘celebrities’ adorn every newspaper, magazine and child’s bedroom wall. But now more than ever it seems appropriate to ask whether or not they deserve the adulation they receive.

Celebrities, including sports personalities, are invariably pursuing a career that they have always wanted to do and presumably have a proclivity for. Is there anything inherently heroic in that? I have always wanted to eat chocolate cake, and I definitely have a proclivity for it, but I doubt that would be enough to put me in line for the New Year Honours List.



Ah, but these people have trained and worked tirelessly at their craft for years, sometimes decades – surely that could be considered heroic? True, but again, for whom have they done this: their loved ones, the local community, their country, or themselves? No sacrifice has been made that was not the pursuit of personal betterment and reward. Indeed other relationships, including those with their partners and children, are often sacrificed for these dreams. Is it any wonder that many of these celebrities end up being deeply unpleasant, entitled and narcissistic?

For me, a true hero must make a sacrifice for someone, or something. To borrow from Hollywood for a moment, that’s what makes George Bailey, James Stewart’s good-guy-next-door in It’s A Wonderful Life, so appealing. At every crucial moment, he puts the well-being of others before his own, sacrificing dreams of travelling the world, a career as an architect and even his honeymoon, to ‘do the right thing’.

Superman is another good example. The Man of Steel is a hero not because he can fly or leap tall buildings in a single bound; he’s a hero because he sacrifices any hope of having a ‘normal’ life in exchange for a life of anonymity in pursuit of the greater good. He wouldn’t be quite so noble a character if he sold his wedding to Hello! magazine and was sponsored by Nike.

Aspiration and ambition are necessary for humans to achieve great things, and to have heroes as a child is normal and perhaps necessary. But if you are past the age of eighteen and still believe that the greatest person on the planet is an actor or pop star, perhaps, in the light of recent revelations, it’s time to choose our heroes more wisely.

James Robinson

  • paul parmenter

    “Is it any wonder that many of these celebrities end up being deeply unpleasant, entitled and narcissistic?”

    I wonder if it might be the other way round. That these people already have some unpleasant, entitled and narcissistic traits, and it is those that induce them to take up careers that put them in the public eye and feed their vanity? And if they are successful in those careers, their unpleasant characteristics are enabled to grow and become worse, particularly when they are in a world and surrounded by people that seem to worship grossly inflated egos?

    • Groan

      I think I would have to agree. I suppose its inevitable that such people become confused in the public mind with the characters they play (which has had a notable downside for some who’ve played nasty characters). And of course this hardly helps those who become to believe themselves to be the characters they play. If one adds in the heady self obsession common to many people in their youth, it is easy to see how we arrive at such a distasteful destination.

      • Alan Llandrindod Wells

        Our disgusting Luvvies are nearly all Remoaners.
        They hate democracy.
        They despise working class people.
        They think they are a superior race.

        • paul parmenter

          But they don’t despise the money they glean from the working class though, do they?

  • noix

    James Stewart was a hero though.

    • 39 Pontiac Dream

      Wasn’t he a WW2 pilot? Can you imagine any of the current crop volunteering for battle?

      • sfin

        He certainly was. He joined up in 1941 as a Private soldier, already a major Hollywood star in his thirties, and ended the war as a full Colonel, having commanded heavy bomber missions over Germany.

        He continued his service in the reserves, after the war (including, never publicised observer flights over Vietnam) and entered the retired list of officers as a Major General.

        A hero indeed and, as you say, a service record that is hard to contemplate any of the current crop of luvvies achieving.

        • paul parmenter

          That generation of actors often had distinguished war records. That may well be why they had their feet firmly on the ground when they went into films. The same with post-war sports stars. They were rarely seduced by fame and big money, unlike so many spoiled brats on the scene today.

    • Odo Saunders

      Also Audie Murphy, who was one of the most decorated American soldiers in World War 11.

      • Shorter form, The most decorated American soldier in World War II, and an OK, not great actor.

  • 39 Pontiac Dream

    Celebrities are self serving narcissists and should never be viewed as ‘heroes’ or role models. As we’ve seen from scandals appearing in Hollywood, the reaction is always the same – never speak as a human being, always go for the killer line.
    The problem with actors is that they are always acting, especially when there’s a camera in the vicinity.

  • Bik Byro

    “Don’t look for heroes in Hollywood”

    I never did. Seeing vacuous celebrities as “heroes” is a big part of the problem nowadays.

    • CRSM

      It’s not just ‘Heroes’. The very idea that some nonentity can become a ‘Celebrity’ is worse if anything.

      • 39 Pontiac Dream

        The ‘I’m a Celebrity’ line ups show that – reality ‘stars’ and spouses of famous footballers. What have these people actually done?

        • Bik Byro

          The show should be renamed “I’m a nonentity trying to get into the limelight – Get Me Into There”

  • Sir_Hugo_Baskerville

    It’s also the fact that these “celebrities” like nothing better than lecturing the rest of us on how wrong we are to vote Leave or for Donald Trump.
    Pretending to be someone else in their day job seems inexplicably to make them think they are better than us.

  • Groan

    I have to observe sometimes celebrities are hoisted by their own egotism. I caught a copy of yesterdays METRO which had the story of the supposed civil servants “breast touching” of Daisy Goodwin. The headline sharing space with a picture of her at an “awards” fest tightly clad, thrusting her bust in best Sargn’t Major fashion. It rendered her “complaint” rather ridiculous. I wondered if it was deliberate or perhaps Ms. Goodwin simply carries all before her in all her publicity shots.
    Generally I’ve tried to avoid reading much of this witch hunt. But amused by the “carry on” link of headline and picture I read on. To find Ms. Goodwin had dealt with the issue at the time, had not been overly bothered and presumably never come across the like in the years since. Consequently one was left with the obvious conclusion that popping into print now was simply getting on a bandwagon.

  • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    It’s A Wonderful Life is precisely the wrong example to cite, George Bailey’s a fine enough bloke, of course, but the film could (should?) have ended, not with all the building society depositors bailing (no pun?) him out, but with George sacking Billy. Perhaps not on Christmas, perhaps done in a “kind” way, but the doddering old fool deserved the heave-ho, uncle or not. THAT would prove George’s mettle.

    I should imagine that the people of the town, having helped George at a minimum in preference to Potter taking things over, even in the light of Billy’s carelessness, would come to their senses later and demand that George DO something– not unlike, say, how either in the UK or US there were many who voted, not so much FOR someone as against someone else, would similarly say, “Having saved you from the fires of Hell, less for your sake than for ours, act like you deserved our vote of confidence, will you please?”

    • Ha. I think you just remarked what has always left me just a bit dissatisfied with ‘Wonderful Life’. It’s an OK movie, and I have always liked General Stewart, and I’d further bet that he had the same qualms. After all, he had quite literally seen men die because of some foul up.

      • Colkitto03

        Its impressive how many Hollywood stars of the 50s and 60s had done military service. But then hadn’t that whole generation?. I love Lee Marvin, 4th marine Division, wounded in action in the pacific, several medals. When he acted in the ‘Big Red 1’ you have to know he had done his ‘method’ acting for real!

        • Yep, and life in that period made a difference in the women as well. Compare any of the current ones to Maureen O’Hara, and you will see why movies have declined. Of course, I’m partial to Gingers anyway. 🙂

          I’d bet John Wayne protested loudly that his knee injury kept him out, and I suspect he could easily have been another Jimmy Stewart. I wonder, the only new movie I’ve seen is Wonder Woman, and I liked it reasonably well, I suspect because Gal Gadot has some of that air of competence that transcends roles, and usually comes from military service. A lot of it seems to be that they take the role seriously, themselves not so much.

          • Colkitto03

            Incidentally my mother comes from South Mayo and from a place only miles from Cong where the ‘Quiet man’ was filmed.
            i reckon all Mayo woman are a bit like Maureen O’Hara, My mum is fiery tempered, strong willed, very conservative, no shrinking violet. But everyone loves her

          • Decidedly my type! My mom was a bit quieter, but decidedly in charge, somewhat different heritage, although not as much as people think. Her family was from Trondheim. Good, strong willed people, everyone of them.

          • Colkitto03

            We were watching a documentary last night about prohibition. It focused a lot on Andrew Volstead. My god, he had some Norwegian determination! Not sure what his Viking ancestors would have made of it?

          • I’d guess they’d be OK with his determination, considerably less with his ideas, and likely to say so, if they were being polite that week. A bit prudish for their tastes, I would think.

          • Colkitto03

            According to the documentary it seems that most states that voted for Prohibition were under the impression that beer and wine were not included!

          • Could be, it was demon rum that everybody talked about. Still a really stupid idea, though!

  • Coniston

    Hollywood – P.G. Wodehouse, who worked there for a time, summed it up: he called it Dottyville-on-Sea. (His short stories about Hollywood are some of his best).

  • Two-steps-forward

    Can’t help wondering why these alleged victims of sexual assault didn’t do something about it years ago. Could be forgiven for thinking they didn’t really give a damn about other women suffering the same ‘fate’ at the hands of the same man.

  • Harley Quin

    The proportion of honours granted to Entertainers of one sort or another is grotesque.

    Knighthoods finally hit bottom in my estimation when one was granted to ‘Sir’ Mick Jagger.

    Given that a Knighthood is an order of chivalry and Sir Mick is anything but chivalrous in my opinion, the honour has been comprehensively degraded by this, and this sort of thing,

    As the article says, who or what has a Jagger ever served, except himself?

    I dont exclude Geldorf either. He might have tried to help the unfortunate at one level. . But on another, he would have disappeared into the obscurity from which he emerged but for these highly publicised efforts.

    Nothing there about doing good in private, as urged by Jesus.

    Also, I fail to see why celebrity in the entertainment buisness – or in the writing of stories for children – should be a qualification for superior political wisdom, as some people seem to think.