The Heroes of Our Age

I find it fascinating that a working class hero is so different from a white collar hero. The working class hero, like the firefighter or the emergency medical technician, is recognized as the general idea of all firefighters or EMTs. When they Dan the Firefighter, they don’t see Dan, they see the Firefighter. If Dan were to ever leave the firefighting service, the recognition of heroic service leaves him as well. Thus, Dan must stay the Firefighter to stay a hero.

The white collar heroes of our age, including CEOs, actors, and politicians, are paradoxes. The general public sneers at the leaders of publicly listed companies and political groups, yet they are captivated by those who fill these shoes. Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, and Meryl Streep are loved by those who love them, despite the common disdain for what these individuals specialize in: Corporate leadership, politicking, and acting. Even if these individuals left their professions, their past professions will always carry on with their identities: Meryl Streep the bartender will always be recognized as the Actor; Steve Jobs the theater manager will always be remembered as the CEO.

The working class hero’s iconography is based on a uniform that can fit anyone if they desired to pursue that career; the white collar hero’s iconography is based on the very skin of the individual. They are mythically irreplaceable.