July 27, 2006

Way back when, at a time when I was but a kid, Rick Astley prowled the charts with all the enthusiasm that one would expect for a man for whom an appearance on Now! 19 represented a quiffed career nirvana, and the word “hero” meant something. It was a word which you could apply — albeit sparingly — to people who had guffawed in the face of all which is sensible, and gone on to carry off remarkable feats, either physical, mental, or professional.

Now, however, we live in a world where people who carry out their jobs to a reasonable level of accomplishment are all of a sudden lumped with the tag of heroism by the papers. England’s perenially failing footballers are heroes. Tiger Woods is a hero for hitting a small ball across a field. Even Tim Bloody Henman is! And he’s rubbish!

Maybe we should create strata of heroism. One can be reserved for the British tabloid press to use which means “carried out their job adequately”. We’ll know that this class of unter-hero is being used because the age of the participant will be listed immediately after their name, for example “Beckham, 31, heroically kicked a ball incurring little to no physical risk, yet accruing unimaginable financial reward in the process.” Actual heroes can be recognised because most of the time, their name won’t be in the paper in the first place.


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