Heroes and Role Models


People need gods and heroes.  Worshipping something or somebody is a psychological need that has plagued mankind ever since the beginning of its history.  While God is a projection of all the goodness that man is capable of imagining, heroes become the earthly manifestation of the projected perfection.   

We want our heroes to be as perfect as possible.  That’s why we find it difficult to accept Shah Ruk Khan’s habit of smoking.  But we can soon be happy, perhaps.  It seems Mr Khan has decided to give up his smoking habit.  As soon as he expressed his desire, an NGO called HRIDAY (Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth) sent a set of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches to the actor [The Hindu, 13 Jun. 2011].

Our heroes should not smoke.  They are the role models for the society.  Can they drink?  There are Bollywood heroes who endorse alcoholic drinks.  I wonder why there was never any loud criticism of that.  Maybe, our heroes can endorse anything that brings them more wealth.  Wealth is a virtue in our worldview. 

That’s why our heroes can also swindle and hoodwink people.  Many of the contemporary heroes are crooks, frauds and swindlers, who have stashed away millions of dollars in clandestine accounts abroad.  Many of our heroes are people who wear saffron robes and preach values and ethics but possess fabulous assets whose sources are suspect.  There are heroes who are involved in a number of scams and scandals.  There are heroes who encroach upon government land and appropriate it.  There are heroes who acquire mines, oil reserves or other resources and later alter their commitments to the nation…

I was told by a friend about an industrialist who also runs many schools.  Schools are a good means for converting black money into white, I came to know through this friend.  The industrialist has very strict moral codes for the teachers in his schools.  Even a small violation of those codes will invite severe punishments.  Termination from service is the most common punishment.  If the teacher goes to the court of justice he will be ‘handled’ by the thugs kept by the industrialist.  Teachers are the role models for students.  They should be perfect. 

What about the administrators being role models for teachers?

I mentioned the example of the industrialist as an analogy for our demand on Shah Ruk Khan.  Just like the industrialist, we impose certain moral codes on our perceived role models.  We expect them to live up to the standards we prescribe for them. 

But why don’t we insist on certain really moral and ethical qualities rather than focus on peccadilloes like smoking or drinking.  Why don’t we demand honesty, compassion, and such qualities from the so-called role models?

About matheikal

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8 Responses to Heroes and Role Models

  1. I don’t understand why a hero cannot have his own life and practice what he wishes to regardless of the fact whether it is a good habit or not.

  2. matheikal says:

    Dhruva, this is exactly what I’m saying. People shouldn’t bother themselves with silly things. Unfortunately people understand only silly things.

    Do the habits matter? Yes, of course, undoubtedly.

    But Shah Ruk Khan has said time and again that his smoking has nothing to do with his acting and that his acting is what he wants the people to take seriously. His acting is his contribution to the society. But the society would rather point a finger at his smoking!

    On the other hand, if Mr Khan does not smoke and is a ‘good’ role model to people it will be wonderful. But who are we to demand that of him? Is it his duty to be a role model any more than a parent’s, a politician’s, an administrator’s, just anybody’s?

  3. … but sir, in an open society every individual is answerable to the society, even more when the person holds a position of distinction, dont you think? Also, I read a few days back that Sachin Tendulkar refused to endorse cigarettes and alcohol, he sure did earn some more respect.

    • matheikal says:

      Nobody is answerable to anybody except to him-/herself. Those who live on that principle live honest lives. Those who demand answers from others impose their wills on others. Such people are the greatest threat to human civilisation.

      Please try to understand the real meaning of what I have said.

  4. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    do you know the basic difference between MGR and Sivaji Ganesan? MGR never played a cad; never smoked on screen; never drank; was never on the wrong side of law except when forced into it at an early age by circumstances (when a youngster played his role); never teased girls; never got into a love duet (invariably it was his heroine who had the dream sequence; always praised motherhood … the list is endless.

    You understand what I am saying, of course.

    Raghuram Ekambaram

  5. dawnanddew says:

    Ah! That’s a good demand. Sir, but why have you brought the analogy? I don’t think Sharuk and the industrialist strike any balance.

    • Matheikal says:

      The analogy is not between Shahruk and the industrialit, but between the public and the industrialist. The public’s demand on Mr Khan is like the industrialist’s demand on the teachers.

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