Ever notice how many people have pugs these days? And how big pugs figure into “funny dog” videos? They’re funky little dogs with not-horrible personalities, but they have so many health problems that you have to practically become a vet to deal with them all. You wonder why people want them.
They want them because they look like nonagenarian Alfred E. Neumans. Period.
It wasn’t like that back in those mythic golden days. Back then, everybody wanted Rin Tin Tin. Lassie. Roy Rogers’ Bullet. Even though in my neck of the woods we usually just got, “It followed me home, Mom. Can I keep it?”
Then we started getting a little frou-frou. Cocker spaniels got bought and bred and re-bred and inbred to the point of being like something out of Alien. So they got dropped and … on it goes. You get little spikes — like Dalmatians every time that d*mned movie gets reissued or remade.
But to whatever extent we identify with our dogs (and it’s the next closes thing to a human bond, closer for some) it seems as if we’ve gradually gone from wanting to identify ourselves with heroic figures to something clownish, even pathetic.
At the same time, of course, we’re living in this marvelous renaissance of larger-than-life comic book figures. And it’s great. But it’s just entertainment. The film industry has reached the point where they can make grown-ups believe in Spider-Man or Captain America and make women lust for Loki or Thor (I am a Loki woman, myself).
Even if we secretly harbor some adolescent identification with Tony Stark or Natasha Romanoff, the well-balanced among us are not hankering to don sparkly tights or iron suits.
Every once in a while these movies will really speak to us. Captain America has had some strong words for the surveillance state. And maybe we harbor that within and watch that particular film clip again. But as far as action goes it’s something way off there in the distance.
So it appears that the more heroic the movies get, the farther heroism is from our real lives or any real expectations we have for ourselves or our culture. We’ve moved “heroic ideals” into the realm of fantasy while we increasingly lurk around, cowed by political correctness, by hostile law enforcers, by the need to avoid offending, by laws made by and for well-funded elites from an entirely different culture than our own, and by the drudgy necessities of life.
And Rin Tin Tin has been replaced with … a pug.