There are tons and tons of Hollywood movies focused on the unmatched genius of a single leading character. A person who stands head and shoulders above the rest. A hero that inspires us to be better than we are. It could be the rules of storytelling dictate that there be a clear protagonist, which is mistakenly thought of as synonymous with a hero. A primary character doesn’t need to heroic, but in our culture it’s very common. It strikes me as a Randian concept. A very American way of thinking and acting. Everyone is master of their domain if they only put in the requisite effort to allow their inner hero to manifest itself in the world.
It’s thinking that permeates a lot of what we see and experience in culture and the arts. A piece of clothing isn’t the work of a team of people. Instead it’s the vision of a singular leader with the replaceable assistance of many. A film isn’t the output of a large crew of people, each providing an important service in support of the finished product. Instead it’s the genius of a director or a vehicle driven by a particularly notable lead actor. A reality star isn’t the byproduct of cutting and editing, but instead a star already made.
Heroes are how we understand the world. There are those that stand out and above us all, and those who worship at their feet. The hero complex also explains our historical moment. Searching for meaning in people and celebrity. It’s the new religion so let us all pray.