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Discussion Straw poll: Is the idea of "hero blame" valid in the real world?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Goodwood, Oct 23, 2013.

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  1. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    May 11, 2011
    Author's note: In the absence of further data, a straw poll is sufficient to build a prima fascie case for a hypothesis (I probably spelled that wrong).

    So after watching The Avengers again and seeing how there's quite the discussion after the battle in the "movie media" about so-called super heroes, I came to realize that there seems to be rather a lot of what may be referred to as "hero-blaming" in quite a lot of recent artistic works ranging from feature films to comic books, television shows, and literature. Take the Fate of the Jedi series as a particularly noteworthy example of the growing trend of this trope—if this is in fact something covered by tvtropes—and how it is starting to play an increasingly large role in establishing the plots of novels and even the entire series. From the very first chapters of Outcast, it was all about contriving an excuse for Jedi-shaming, to coin a phrase, to the point that the very plot of the entire series couldn't have existed without such stirred-up hate.

    It all seems so artificial to me.

    Even before FotJ, there was significant hero blame in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, although it could be argued that the writers for that particular game weren't exactly best buddies with established canon and thus can be dismissed more easily. Yes, both plotlines do take place in the wake of devastating wars that involved Jedi or ex-Jedi on both sides, yet they both assume that the galaxy at large has the collective attention span of a flitnat (both FotJ and KotOR II take place only a handful of years after said conflicts). This stuff has spilled over to (or perhaps leeched into Star Wars from) other franchises as well, possibly the most famous of which are Marvel comic series, X-Men and Spider-Man—again, two franchises that could not exist in their popular form without some form of artificial hero blame. Even the new incarnation of Batman, courtesy of Christopher Nolan, suffers from this, when to my knowledge it never existed before within that series. What's next, Superman-blame?

    Oh, wait, never mind...

    Which brings me to the question of this thread, the point of the poll. Do you, as author and audience both, see the idea of hero blame as plausible in reality? Which is to say, would you be so quick to blame the super hero for the damage done during a fight with an opponent who is clearly amoral and cares not for the harm he/she/it/they cause in pursuit of their goals? Or would it be far more likely that we as humans would recognize and appreciate what the hero(ine) went through to save the day?

    This is not so much a question of the nature of the heroes or villains of said story, or what their motivation is. Rather, it is a question of perception and whether this new trope of hero hate actually holds water for a real-world situation. Somehow, I don't see crowds of civilians blaming Seal Team Six for taking out bin Laden if that action were to result in some horrible attack on the U.S., carried out in the deceased al Qaeda leader's name.
  2. Mechalich

    Mechalich Jedi Knight star 4

    Feb 2, 2010
    Not against the Seals no, but against the CIA for manipulating events in the Middle East for decades there has been significant Blowback (this is the technical term apparently) both foreign and domestic, regarding such actions. The idea that there might be blowback against super-heroes really doesn't seem far fetched, particularly in a case where there is a institution of heroes, like the Jedi Order, that allows the public to conflate the sins of individual bad actors with the group as a whole.

    The general thesis of blowback is that actions may create a reaction that, some time later, turns out to have worse consequences than simply letting the original bad thing happen in the first place. The classic case is Iran, where the US, via the CIA overthrew a democratically elected government to put the Shah back into power, ultimately setting up the Islamic revolution to occur.

    Could this happen in the context of superheroes: yes. Certainly this is at least part of the thesis advanced in the Nolan Batman films, in that the existence of Batman creates a place within the criminal underworld for the Joker that previously would not have existed. Though it's not entirely traceable to Nolan, my understanding of Batman is a character is that blaming him for 'creating' many of the villains he fights has occurred for a long time. This is obviously going to show up in the new Avengers movie as well - since Ultron is a villain ultimately created by one of the Avengers.

    In Star Wars, if we're talking about placing blame upon the Jedi Order, the central question is, Do the Jedi create the Sith? The answer is arguably yes, and with that established, a certain kind of moral calculation can weigh all the good the Jedi do versus all the evil the Sith do. Which way does that scale balance? Possibly it balances toward the evil side. While you can easily argue the other way, that's at least a foundational justification for anti-Jedi sentiment in Star Wars.
  3. taramidala

    taramidala Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jun 18, 1999
    Question: when you say "plausible in reality" do you mean fandom reality or..."real life" reality (for lack of a better phrase)?

    If we're talking about fandom reality, you could argue that the entirety of the Old Jedi Order, or even Yoda himself, were to blame for their fall at Anakin/Vader's hands. I think that point is pretty clear in the film. The rules and regs of the Order against things like attachment, or even healthy doses of fear, could be viewed as direct causes of Anakin's "need" to keep things to himself, or to confide in Palpatine who in turn used that to his benefit.

    If we're talking "real life" I agree with you that no, you don't see people blaming the Seals, but I also agree with Mechalich in that Blowback is a phenomenon that exists. And to go back to fandom, from what little I know about the PT era EU, that seems to be something that Palpatine manipulated/created also. All perfectly reasonable IMO.

    Now, if you're talking about blaming an individual, that's another matter.
  4. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    May 11, 2011
    taramidala: Putting it that way, I suppose that the heart of the question was the plausibility of collective hero blame both in the real world and in fandom. By that measure, or even your own, I don't think it possible for folks in the GFFA to blame anyone for Anakin's fall due to the simple fact that most folks didn't know that Anakin was Vader until well after Palpatine's death (Luke wasn't in the habit of spreading that information around, after all). Yes, it probably was at least partly the Old Jedi Order's fault that Anakin fell, but that's not an accusation that people in-universe would make simply for lack of information.

    I'm quite familiar with the concept of blowback, and feel slightly abashed at not having thought to mention it in the original post. Further to that point, the mentioning of Seal Team Six was not intended to arouse a socio-political debate, but rather to illustrate the fact that in America it's considered almost a sacred duty to worship members of the armed forces (if you don't, you're some kind of anti-patriot—yes, I'm being sarcastic). The concept itself is multipurpose, in that it can be used to describe action and consequence across a variety of fields. For example in the realm of health care, the blowback from over-use of antibiotics is the evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of disease-causing bacteria. The deployment and use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons (fallout is a real nut-buster) has been cause for major concern for sixty years. The use of genetically-engineered plant species in farming also carries this potential; terminator seeds designed to produce infertile crops could possibly be used to the point where, quite accidentally, there are no more naturally-occurring specimens. But these debates are not the purpose for which this thread was intended.

    Getting back to the question: It just seems to me that this trope is becoming increasingly overused, and I wanted to know if others felt that way. Like most other tropes, there's a time and a place for hero blame, but in that same vein, its abuse factor is ever present.
  5. taramidala

    taramidala Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jun 18, 1999
    I can't say that I've come across that trope, but I admit my fic reading is somewhat limited at the moment. I think that, as with any trope, my level of fatigue would depend on the quality of the writing. If something is superbly constructed, I think we find ourselves able to overlook certain cliches.
  6. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 21, 2007
    Well to use Seal Team Six to Americans and others they are heroes for killing Bin Laden but to Bin Laden's follows/supporters Team Six was in the wrong.

    In the first Spider Man movie at one point they are showing News interviews with some of the people that Spider Man helped and some are singing his praises and others are declaring him a menace.

    Even with regular police officers get it too. A police officer some place was approached by a man that wanted to die. The man pulled a knife and after some tense moments attempted to attack the officer and was shot and died. The police officer had followed protocol and wasn't charged but because the man was a solider people were upset over it. But the officer has to live with the fact that he killed a man that needed help and what his family and friends say hints that he went to the police station to die.

    People will always call "foul!" no matter what. They will always say that there are other ways that the situation could have been handled. Sometimes they are right and other times they are wrong.
  7. Kahara

    Kahara Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Blaming the Jedi is not entirely out-there to me. There are cases where people will argue that an intervention (of any kind) made things worse, and there is a general human tendency to make scapegoats when things aren't going well. And yes, there are plenty of aliens in SW, but their overall psychology tends to be written fairly human-like. In other words, likely to sometimes prove the quote from Men in Black: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it." In cases like the post-Clone Wars Empire, you also have the government encouraging everyone to blame them and punishing those who don't fall in line.

    It also makes some sense to me because of the way that the history of galactic culture in SW has been written. The Republic seems to have depended on the Jedi in a major way throughout its reign, the Empire turned around and blamed them for the destructive Clone Wars, and then the Jedi played a huge role in toppling the Empire and supporting the Alliance/New Republic. The "ordinary" people of the Galactic Alliance have that whole background with the Jedi ingrained, where everyone else expects the Jedi to come in and save the day for them. When the Jedi fail to easily destroy a threat, that's scary and angers people. I don't find it hard to imagine that some of them would blame them, especially if the mistrust were supported by a like-minded and/or powerful group.

    In spite of all that, I'd rather not see the Jedi poorly regarded from now on. For one thing, unless done with some care it kind of makes the whole "normal" population of the galaxy into a mass of faceless antagonists. That encourages more of the Jedi Are Superior and Everyone Else is Boring idea that many of us, myself included, dislike. Back in the day, I used to wish they would write more about the Jedi. Now there is so much of that and it makes a stark contrast against the apparent lack of non-Jedi heroes. The Force is neat, but it shouldn't be an absolute prerequisite for a character to have adventures worth reading.
    Lady_Misty likes this.
  8. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    You do realize that this is a fairly recent phenomenon. When I joined the Army I was told by my teachers and guidance counselor that I just flushed my life down the toilet. The military was for dropouts and people who couldn't get by in the civilian world. I could not believe how much the civilians hated the military until I got to my first duty station. Civilians would refuse to serve us when we went to civilian clubs, local merchants would rip us off and cops would harass us. And I was told it used to be much worse. My Vietnam era sergeants said they would get spit on by people and flipped off by grandmothers. It got so bad that one month the Post Commander informed the finance office that when we were issued our pay every soldier would get a $2 bill (this is prior to direct deposit). This way the local merchants would get an idea as to how much money the military was pumping into their economy. I don't think it helped. I'll tell you I laughed my butt off when one post I was stationed at closed and all the local businesses went belly up. Oh the civilians were moaning and crying about the loss of their precious military base and the money it brought in. o_O

    Since 9-11 the military has enjoyed a positive image in society (as it should be), but that can disappear in a heartbeat. All you need is the right (or wrong) political climate and media willing to spread anti-military propaganda and things can change.

    As for Star Wars, I can't believe anybody likes the Jedi. I would think they would be seen as elitists. If there was a group of humans on Earth that had special powers like the Jedi, I don't think they would be trusted. Some people would be jealous of their abilities, others would be scared of their power. I would think they would be treated like the X-Men mutants.
    Lady_Misty likes this.
  9. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    May 11, 2011
    Jedi_Lover: Hence my admittance to being sarcastic in that post; you're right that the military has had to endure a bumpy road insofar as public relations goes. This has been the case as far back as the end of the Revolution, in the brief period of peace before the Whiskey Rebellion and through to the drafting of the Constitution in favor of the woefully inadequate Articles of Confederation. America was perhaps the last major power to realize that yes, having a standing, professionally-trained and well-equipped army (we've always had a Navy) was necessary for national survival and securing a place in the world. I guess that even as a child, reading history and enjoying it more than any kid in their right mind ought to, I had a certain innate appreciation for soldiers. The ebb and flow of public opinion never held much sway with me; while I never worshiped those in the military, I respected those who did even if they were drafted (my father was a medic in the late Seventies).

    Which is not to say that that respect was automatic, but I've never met soldier or veteran who didn't reciprocate.
  10. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 6, 2012
    I think JL hit on the real reason that the Jedi in the EU are not particular popular: here they are, a people with remarkable power, a group funded by the government, often has a say in who leads the government (Omas' election comes to mind), and yet does very little to show what they do FOR the government. Denning has them sidestepping their responsibility to the very government who makes their Order possible because they '...don't want to get involved.' Their role is to be 'the guardians of peace and justice'.

    The Jedi need to learn the same lesson that the military has…public relations is a GOOD thing…show people what you do. The AF gets tons of good press for lifting humanitarian aid to Haiti and Pakistan, after all, even though that's only a small part of what we do.
    TrakNar likes this.
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