I took time to reflect on when the moral compass of our society went in the crapper and then it dawned on me. As soon as I hit 45, I could finally see all these kids as they were; young, snot-nosed little whippersnappers that better get off my lawn before I bring out my friends Smith and Wesson. I wondered as to why I had not seen this clear truth before.
What seems to confuse these misguided millennial degenerates is an inability to grasp right and wrong. Growing up, knowing good from bad was almost taken for granted. And if there was ever any doubt, Sister Marcela would be happy to add spiritual clarity with a stiff backhand to an unsuspecting head while our Lord and Savior no doubt gave an approving thumbs up.
Not long ago, role models were a dime a dozen. If you had a body in the trunk and didn’t know what to do, you could outsource your deficient conscience to any number of real or fictional figures. Superman stood for truth, justice and the American way. Batman was the world’s greatest detective, not a punch-drunk psychopath. Reagan sent in the jets to give Gaddafi a spinning back kick of American freedom while Sweden was too busy jamming their heads in the sand. The good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black. This is of course, naively simplistic but the the under-girds of morality still existed. Yet somewhere along the way the school bus of society hit a speedbump, spilling everyone’s $5 Frappuccino’s all over their avocado toast. When did this happen to Western society in particular?
I think I might have an idea, and it all revolves around one particular hero of my adolescence. I had many such role models because boys who haven’t been raised on a steady diet of Corn Flakes and Nintendo will gravitate towards great stories. Clark Kent was a modest hero. Reed Richard’s was a brilliant scientist. Michael Knight helped the little guy with the assistance of a bitchin’ A.I. Trans-Am. But there was one that stood above them all.
When I was around twelve years old, there was a voice in the back of my head that began to question whether grown-ass men hitting each other with steel chairs was a legitimate sporting event in a pre-apocalyptic society. Truth is, I just didn’t care. It satisfied my need to see good overcome evil and that was all that mattered. I remember wandering the house at night and turning on the TV just as an episode of Saturday Night Main Event started the intro music. Within seconds, the house was awake, Jiffy-Pop was served and I sat breathless as Hulk Hogan fought Paul Orndorff to victory in a cage match.
From that moment on, I said my prayers and took my vitamins. Then I saw Senor Hulk live in Winnipeg and it blew my mind. When “Real American” blasted over the speakers and the Hulkster made his entrance, I wanted to move to this magical place of truth and justice so bad it hurt. Instead of Canada where we handle evil by sending a nasty letter to our government, Americans dealt bad guys with a leg drop, three count, and post butt-kicking pose-down. Take me America. Take me now.
Judging by my progressing joint inflammation, these events took place in the mid-eighties. Russians were bad. Commies were bad. Guns insured freedom. Heroes weren’t dark. Men were men and women…oh yeah…the women were women. Stores were closed on Sunday and people ate fish on Friday. I have no idea as to why, but I know I felt guilty if I didn’t have a “TGIF” Filet-O-Fish. Evidently, the scar tissue on my skull from Sister Marcela had left a deeper impression.
Roughly a decade later, the seeds of change were starting to sprout. The Soviet Union had already hit the long overdue socialist-self-destruct button. The Berlin wall was torn down. All good things, of course. But something more was happening in the background. In the absence of a “bad guy” everyone just sort of went their own way. Without a Hitler for Captain America to kick in the balls, Steve Rogers just became a weird guy in tights throwing an oversized Frisbee.
The very idea of right and wrong was eroding as our role models became obsolete. Tacky shirts now had images of Che Guevara and were being worn by people who dig Stalin, but oddly enough also call everyone they don’t like “Hitler”.
And to make matters worse, in 1996, the hero of heroes, Hulk Hogan, switched sides and became rotten-to-the-core Hollywood Hogan. What. The. Hell.
Good news, by now I was well aware wrestling was a scripted show. If you didn’t know this by the time of your mid-teens, you probably take the special bus somewhere every morning. But I have noticed that from an analytical standpoint, wrestling can be an odd barometer of the social conscience. For example, it became increasingly fashionable to be the bad guy. Flag waving heroes were more often than not, booed by the audience. The prophecy of the great Dark Helmet was coming true; evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.
As years went by, heroes rose who were in no way role models. Fans would cheer for Stone Cold Steve Austin, a beer guzzling trash talker. Superman now stood for truth, justice, and all that stuff. Batman might get down to detective work once he was done smashing some random bad guy into a chunky paste. Dark and gritty superhero reboots were becoming a dime a dozen and in doing so, our cultural myths were being hijacked. Instead of lessons in morality, we got all flash, no substance. Suddenly a new generation was among us, deprived of any cowboys in white hats to look up to.
Even worse, Sister Marcela was no longer around to hit kids with a loving stick.
When asked to describe people they admire, the answers we get today make one weep for humanity. Vacuous politicians and virtue-signalling celebrities top the billing. I’m sure glad John Wayne isn’t alive to see this.
Instead of self-reliance, it is becoming disturbingly fashionable to ask what our government can do for us. I’ll say this much, when that skirt-chasing buffoon JFK has become a beacon of morality for our time, you know that an extinction-level comet is on the way. At least I hope so, because my retirement savings really aren’t going to cut it.
Despite the appearance of me hanging a noose in my closet, all hope is not lost. Role models can be found if you just dig a little deeper. Be cautious however of who you choose. Political figures are a high risk investment since its hard to climb that ladder without being a narcissistic, self-serving prick. Actors fall in the same category. Best to cross all of California off the list to be safe. I instead recommend starting with the literary classics before latching on to some undeserving big-shot like a pathetic barnacle.
Homer’s Odyssey is excellent if you need a crash course in manly heroism. A fair amount of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Macbeth, also illustrates the conflict of good and evil. Even better if you can watch the movie version where Macbeth jumps from the top rope to dropkick Macduff. If you’re, ahem…slightly less sophisticated, most superhero comic books printed before 1985 will provide decent examples of heroics, if not equal parts campy-cheese.
And of course, I would be negligent if I didn’t fail to mention the pinnacle of what we should all strive for. If you haven’t read up on a particular 1st century Jewish carpenter, steal a Bible from a hotel. Then settle into a comfy chair and get reading. If this is too much, they make graphic novels of the Bible too. No need to pull a brain muscle there, Sparky.
At the tender age of fourteen, I could have been a little more choosy about my role models. Sure, Hogan was aces. But there was only so much I could do to impersonate him besides prayers and vitamins since his bicep was probably bigger than my waist. That meant I needed to seek out more relatable individuals. Sadly, I found one that would shape the better part of the next decade of my life.
Ralph mother-porking Macchio. For some insane reason, I had found my soul mate in the friggin’ Karate Kid. But that’s a story for another time…
THIS HAS BEEN AN EXCERPT FROM THE UPCOMING “SELF-HELP” BOOK BY JOHN PAUL PARROT.