The Lecture this week spoke about the dark side of the internet and issues with demographics such as women, homosexuality, and race. This can be in relation to exclusion, alienation, bullying, and holding back equal rights. There is no concrete explanation for why today there is a perceived gap but this blog post is not to debate the existence of this gap but to discuss the idea of it. The angle that I am going to take is the ideology of it all and the image of the hero.

A hero can mean many things in many mediums such as movies, video games, television, books, comics, and graphic novels and in all of these it has created an image, or an idea of what a hero is. I am not talking to virtues and ethic a hero excludes but the person. This is an example of why  there is a perception of dominance by the classic male stereotype.

For example a classic hero we would all know is Nintendo’s Mario, who is constantly rescuing Princess Peach from the claws of Bowser. This video game is a perfect example of the Damsel in distress who needs rescuing by the burly yet optimistic plumber which also asks the questions about her kingdoms department of defense and maybe they should give it more funding. George W. Busch never needed to be saved from a large dragon turtle by a plumber.

The idea of the damsel is the stereotype that has supported thousands of stories since the dawn of time. For any hero, his right of passage was to save the helpless women from the clutches of some monster. This brings me back to the image of the hero, this time in comic books, the birth ground of contemporary heroism, the caped crusader and so on. DC Comics, one of the two prominent comic book publishers known for batman, superman and many other various men, but recently they have come under great controversy for sexism in their comics. At San Diego Comic Con 2011, Co-Publisher Dan Didio said that the percentage of female creators on their titles had gone from 12% to 1%. This ties back into the idea of the internet and history this way because men wrote it. The female characters in DC Comics have come under question with claims of exploitive overtones and sexualisation in series such Cat Woman, Red Hood and the Outlaws as well as in the new version of female characters, such as Harley Quinn.

While the idea of a female heroine is claimed to be sexualised by male writers, there is also the point of the male hero. While sometimes the idea of a male hero can be fairly straight forward such as “Ok superman is the good guy, he beats the bad guy and the world is saved” – that’s morality. However these lines seem to be blurred, the anti-hero can be thrown in with the hero and in recent years the image of an iconic male doesn’t need to mean straight forward morality but can sometimes mean a gritty realism.

For example this image is from the TV series Madmen, in which character Donald Draper has become the embodiment of masculinity and man hood, in other words, to some a modern hero. However, he is a character who cheats on his wife, is a smoker and a border line alcoholic (I won’t list any more of his negative qualities for sake of not making spoilers), but on the other hand, he is a loving husband, father, and is nice to the people around him.  This image of the hero contradicts the true morality of a hero and creates an idolisation of male dominance.

The image of the hero is an example of how in any context, especially the internet, that there can be a perceived notion of the strong male and the damsel in distress. The internet needs many things equality, clarity, control and secruity but it also needs a hero, but what is a hero?