Look beyond summer blockbusters for homegrown heroes

I’ve had a busy summer so far.

Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum and I figured out a way to prevent world nuclear annihilation, although the White House and D.C. in general didn’t fare too well.

Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer and I tried to eliminate crime and robber barons from the Old West. We did pretty well, although as I think you know, our efforts to stamp out corporate greed in America really only slowed things down a bit.

Spock, Kirk and I also traveled somewhere light-years away to prevent Earth from being destroyed. That was pretty fun, too.

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Superman and I haven’t gotten together yet, although I feel as if I already know the guy and his story. And I haven’t seen any of those touch-feely foreign language films yet. Maybe next month.

What have I learned from my summer adventures? Well, I know they’re only movies, but I was struck by the fact that the heroes weren’t getting shot and stabbed for the love of country, although there was a lot of flag-waving during the action scenes. They weren’t putting their lives on the line because it was their “job” or because their boss told them to get in there and do it or because their shift hadn’t yet ended.

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No, a sense of civic duty or corporate responsibility wasn’t the driving force behind their super-human efforts. Instead, they were motivated by something more personal.

Channing Tatum wanted to rescue his daughter from criminals, and he wanted to redeem her view of him as a father.

Armie Hammer wanted to avenge the death of his brother and rescue his brother’s wife and son, while Johnny Depp was motivated by a mistake he made as a child that he needed to rectify.

The Star Trek guys had all messed up in the past, and they were motivated to show everyone they really could do the right thing at the right time.

You could argue they performed their crazy feats of heroism because they believed in the greater good, or they felt as if they owed their neighbor a better life, or they simply were willing to risk their lives so the rest of us could live in peace and freedom.

And you wouldn’t be all wrong. But every hero (real and celluloid) has a back story, as they say in the movies, and every back story begins with some driving personal motivation or ambition, the need to impress someone or prove something to someone else.

The good news is that the movies aren’t the only places for back stories or heroism or honor.

We write about neighborhood heroes breaking free of the daily grind here in our magazine and every day in our online daily news update at advocatemag.com. We can see them all around us every day, if we just pay attention.

And if we look really hard, even without 3D glasses, we can even see a little bit of heroism in ourselves every once in awhile.

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