Dr. Stat

Dr. Stat is a Statistics Professor. This blog is his opportunity to share ideas and opinions about education (especially math education), politics, and whatever else comes up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Higgleytown Heroes


I saw a bit of a certain children's show this morning. I don't know if I'm spelling it write* or not. Honestly, I have problems with most children's TV that I see. Maybe I'm too cynical. Anyway, apparently they portray different people in the neighborhood as heroes in every show. This time it was the grocery store clerk who turned out to be a hero because he helped the kids find star-shaped noodles.

OK, I'm glad he could help the children find their noodles. But is that heroic? Don't we want the word "hero" to actually mean something out of the ordinary? If everyone is a hero for doing his or her day-to-day job, then we are creating a situation where all are special and therefore none are special**. So the children are learning that to be a hero just means to be a nice person doing a job in the neighborhood. What, then, do we make of people who make great personal sacrifices in service to their communities, or risk their lives on the battlefield to bring freedom to others? What about the people who died to give us a lifestyle that enables us to expend energy worrying about the shape of our noodles? What about the people who go to far away lands and risk their lives to help the poor and sick in inhospitable environments (natural and human)? Are they heroes too, just like the grocery store clerk? Just like the grocery store clerk, who risks...what exactly?...to find us our star-shaped noodles. And now, we have no word to honor a "real hero" since the term "hero" has been taken by...everyone.

I highly suspect, however, that the children's program in question would hesitate to apply the term "hero" to many of the people I consider "real heroes." Forbid that a hero might carry a gun... Let's not forget that a hero is supposed to be a person who sacrifices himself, without expectation of reward, for the benefit of others. The grocery store clerk is getting paid to "be a hero."

And to round off the insult, they have to include a dose of grammatical nonsense, as they sing the theme song with the line "so we can be a Higgleytown Hero, just like you."

Oh...and of course the clerk sings his own praises calling himself a hero. A tale of mediocrity, bad grammar, and pride thus comes to a greating* conclusion.

*intentional mispelling :-; (in case you didn't get it)
**paraphrase of a line from "The Incredibles," a show I was surprised to find I liked very much. See also Metaphilm's story.