Components of the Hero Journey
The article explains the convectional trends of the typical hero-protagonist in movies. Regeneration through violence best describes the typical mythical hero archetype where the hero starts out as a law-abiding individual. This forms the first phase where the hero is reluctant to commit any act of violence. This follows a sequence is termed as “separation -initiation-return,” (Schecheter & Semeiks 20) where the heroes is separated from his cozy and ethical life. The separation is followed by exposure to violent and exploitative conditions that condition the hero to survival mode. This implies that the hero gets in touch with the wild and violent component of his being due to the harsh conditions. The initiation is frequently carried out by a father figure who has antagonist and villain tendencies. The final stage has the hero returning to the earlier cozy and ethical society. Nonetheless, change has occurred and the hero employs the psyche and mentality gained in the initiation phase to aid helpless victims.
The journey is illustrated from the movie Platoon by the protagonist Chris Taylor who emerges as a fresh and ambitious youth from an upper middle class background. He drops out of college in pursuit of a first hand experience of the Vietnam War and is a representation of ethical inclinations and beliefs. However, the exposure to violence and madness in the dark wilderness of the jungle transforms Taylor at some point cultivating antagonistic tendencies such as brutality. This transformation takes effect under the cruel manipulation of Barnes playing the role of the antagonistic father figure. On the other hand, the movie Rambo 2 has the protagonist being shifted from a hard labor camp into the Vietnam wilderness in an attempt to hand him a presidential pardon. This movie reiterates the mythical and typical hero where by the protagonist being sensitive to the human condition of helpless victims and single handedly rescuing them. Additionally, the hero frontier is perpetuated by exhibiting superior knowledge and connection with nature where Rambo loses his state of the art weaponry even before reaching ground and must rely on bare essentials: knife, arrows and bows. The culmination of the hero journey components is a fictitious storyline that intrigues audiences regardless of the nature of facts nullified.
The American nation had bitter sentiments towards the Vietnam War and the movies loosely based on the events of the war were successful in spite of portraying an image contrary to the public’s sentiments. According to the authors of the article, this can be explained by the constant demand of an inherent genius storyline based on the convectional characteristics of the typical mythical hero as asserted by the remarks, “…there will always be demand for great stories and great storytellers” (Schecheter & Semeiks 20). The storyline developed in these movies shaped the perceptions of the American population by introducing the notion of the war not being over. This is illustrated by Taylor’s comments at the end of Platoon stating the war would continue through his lifetime.
In addition, the deployment of Rambo to Vietnam to rescue the imprisoned military personnel indicates the war continues to be won through less express approaches. It is also likely, are the transformational effects of the wars being illustrated hence answering rhetorical questions and emphasizing the already known effects in the lives of the participants. This feeds the retribution and revenge desire of the American nation in addition to using events of the war to create typical American hero. The most significant influential factor in the high ratings received by the movies Rambo and Platoon transcends higher than political and ethical judgments. It is the simple American dream or fantasy of the frontier hero. The mass audience highly prefers the action- packed and thrilling storyline regardless of the political and ethical contradictions.
Schecheter, Harold, and Jonna G. Semeiks. Leatherstocking in Nam: Rambo, Platoon and the American Frontier Myth. Journal of Popular culture, volume 24, 1991. Print.