When Celebrities Become Heroes

I spend a few minutes at the start of every presentation making sure everyone in the room is on the same page about heroes vs celebrities.  Being famous doesn’t make you a hero.  There needs to be something else.

It’s clear though, that there are famous people who do heroic things.  I’m not talking about people who became famous for their heroism, but people who are famous for other things.

In the last few weeks, I’ve read numerous stories of famous actors choosing heroism over being a bystander.

  • Kate Winslet carried Richard Branson’s mother out of a burning building. Link
  • Ryan Gosling stepped into a fight on the street to break it up. Link
  • Brad Pitt stopped to help an extra get to her feet when she fell during a stampede scene. Link
  • Ten years ago today, Steve Buscemi turned up to his old firehouse and volunteered to help after 9/11. Link

Steve Buscemi on September 12, 2001

Each one of these actors chose to do something good instead of choosing to do nothing – the choice of so many others. These actions are great examples if you’re a teacher wanting to discuss with your students the difference between action and inaction.

I would also add the thought that these actions are not surprising because the people were actors.  In their jobs of imagining themselves in heroic roles and spending months in those roles, the actors developed their heroic imagination. By practicing heroism, they were ready when heroism was required.

That’s what I teach and that’s how I live.

2 Responses to When Celebrities Become Heroes

  1. Mark October 4, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    I’ve been thinking about how there is an enormous gulf between ACTION and REACTION. If I’m always reacting to the news, to beggars on the street, to sudden criticisms, I feel full of anxiety and hesitation.

    If I’m secure I can act. It seems like self-actualization can make some people extremely narrow; it can make others extremely expansive. We can all be ACTORS. Reactors are machines.

    • matt October 4, 2011 at 9:18 am #

      Thanks Mark. It is certainly less stressful to be the actor than the reactor. One feels more in control.