For the last decade or more, some of the biggest heroes in my personal pantheon have been from the archetype “Truth Teller”, one of the biggest being the Journalist character Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan. However that part of my mental landscape has been undergoing some slow gradual growth and change. The pivot point was Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, which had it’s moral summed up effectively if pithily as “People will tolerate literally any atrocity or injustice, no matter how absurd, so long as they don’t perceive a meaningful avenue of personal resistance”. With that new lens installed in my head since the movie, it’s just been gaining weight and strength as the next few years unfolded as the last decade ended.
I’ll always love those characters, as they are more than just their action, they are a sum of their passions. Spider is unrelenting in his quest to get to the truth of ugly messy situations and get it before your face. He believes in fighting to the end for what’s right, for helping everyone, for using his platform and privilege to uplift others. All laudable attributes. The part I have lost faith in is that that action of Truth Telling no longer seem effective or sufficient to cause change. We are now daily treated and drowned in news of horrible crimes committed by our leaders, political and corporate, and yet there seems to be little to do about it but drown in the news.
I need a new paradigm in that wing of my mental landscape. I think it’s anarchists, working smaller problems one at a time. It’s less satisfying because it doesn’t seem to lead to systemic change either, but that too increasingly seems to be a fairy tale that is wasted effort chasing. If I’m limiting myself to Warren Ellis characters, Miranda Zero of Global Frequency seems the obvious choice. Building a small organization to do concrete work, less focus on system change, more focus on rescuing people from dire emergent disasters.
But I’m also not constrained by that at all, and I’m still looking for more examples in this vein to draw inspiration from for the next while. Send personal heroes.