In the Television special “Swing Out, Sweet Land”, from 1970, John Wayne said, “Countries are like people, some take themselves so seriously that you won’t get a laugh out of them in a hundred years. And others are more apt then not to stick their tongues in their cheeks and tell funny stories about themselves. And America, thank God, is one of those yarn-spinning places.”
I think one of the best examples is in some of our eclectic classic TV shows. In particular today, I want to talk about the show “The Greatest American Hero.”
Without doing any research, I’ll make the statement that America created the idea of the super hero. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aqua Man. And then we chose to laugh at it. Case in point: Greatest American Hero.
The powers are in the suit, and he lost the instruction manual. Yet there is also that American innocence and idealism that can be misunderstood for naivete.
There is a certain sense of the hero, and the tradition of the “everyman”. All of us with that bit of idealism can see ourselves in the reluctant, bumbling hero. We quest for the hero, and yet we also recognize that it is up to each of us, working together, to be the idealists, the ones for change, the ones to prove that the individual matters.
Some might say it was all a case of escapism. But there is a certain sense of reality shaping involved in the American entertainment industry. When we are at our most fun we are at our best and influential.