Underneath the radar of the Charles Hebdo Unit Rally and the warming of U.S. Cuban ties of the potential downfall of General Petraeus, the hero who saved US’ dignity to leave the Iraq war, and former CIA director is being charged for sharing secret intel with his mistress. There has been a tendency for military leaders to suffer downfalls (his predecessor in Afghanistan, Stanley McCrystal was forced to resign just for criticizing Joe Biden) and Petraeus’s downfall has been quieter than most. And it’s highlighting a trend in our society to no longer look at our soldiers or military commanders as our heroes but instead look up to the ‘Entrepreneur’ hero.
Our real-life heroes have always been those that we aspire to be and represent the dominant narratives of our society. And in our society, it has been the rise in information technology, the techie entrepreneurs who are riding it. For example, Steve Jobs, arguably the most successful modern entrepreneur is also our real-life hero of our generation. His hero attributes is defined by his trademark black turtleneck outfit, his personal philosophy for the Mac Brand, but more importantly Steve Jobs life narrative in relation to Apple. Steve Jobs starts Apple in a garage. Steve Jobs is kicked out of his own company. The fortunes of Apple plummet and Microsoft dominate. Steve Jobs returns to Apple sparking a revolution in user-friendly communication tech that we can all admire. His narrative has conflict, a plot arc and represents the unconventional ‘startup’ thinking that we find popular. Which is why we have a Steve Jobs biopic (okay with Ashton Kutcher but still) and another one on the way.
Now I’m not saying that military leaders or soldiers who have performed heroic deeds don’t inspire people, they do, and they do have movies made about them. We are seeing a splurge in modern war films like “Act of Valor”, “Lone Survivor” or the recent Academy-nominated biopic “American Sniper” starring Bradley Cooper. Now can you name the guy that Bradley Cooper was playing, or what he even looks like? If yes, then yeah you watched the movie. Now how about the guy from the Lone Survivor” the one Marky Mark made millions acting as? Point is you could get a peach fuzz, put on some glasses and a black turtleneck walk down the street and everyone will tell you that it isn’t Halloween yet. These guys could walk around in their military uniform and their medals and sure they’ll get a couple salutes, perhaps free drink if they walked into a pub, but you wouldn’t know who they were and what they did. It’s a far cry from when War Heroes starred in their own films.
While Mark Zuckerberg certainly didn’t star in “The Social Network”, though (Jesse Eisenberg was an awesome replacement) his biopic and Steve’s is part of the “Entrepreneur biopic”. Sure he may have been portrayed as a bit of a loner asshole (yet still cool and successful) but that asshole genius is a character we admire (see House or Sherlock as two great examples) the nerds that lack social skills because their genius leads them to do amazing things we all admire, whether incredible deductive skills or creating the next online startup instead of that war-weary veteran fighting a war we can’t even find on a map.
Throughout history, we have always had our heroes who are the face of our society and change it in the way we admire. For example, the Nine Worthies were nine of the greatest heroes that exemplified the Chivalric standard of duty and adorned churches during the Medieval Age. Likewise during the Age of Enlightenment with the collapse of Divine Rule, there was Napoleon a Corsican who through his own personal merit and military genius defined his time. And now Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, whose narrative defines our age of entrepreneurs.