Time for Heroes


BE­FORE CHRIST­MAS, I INTERVIEWED ROBBIE WILLIAMS. You may re­mem­ber him as a semi-fa­mous relic from the early 2000s, or from that one mu­sic video where he strips down to his skele­ton sur­rounded by roller-skat­ing women, but he was once very im­por­tant to me. I was lucky to get to the in­ter­view. After fail­ing to ad­e­quately crack the North Amer­i­can mar­ket in the early aughts, Robbie stopped do­ing press here. This meant that, de­spite my best ef­forts, his peo­ple were never in­ter­ested in hav­ing him talk to me. When he re­leased a new al­bum in Novem­ber, it gave me an ex­cuse to ask again. Thank­fully, enough ev­i­dence of my ado­les­cent fan­dom re­mained that I was able to in­spire a pub­li­cist to work a mir­a­cle, and I got the in­ter­view that would have blown my teenage mind.

I had hoped to write some epic mas­ter­work about heroes and nos­tal­gia and what it means to have a con­ver­sa­tion with one of your idols and come away feel­ing val­i­dated. I still might. After all, even grown men need heroes. We search for them — es­pe­cially ones that don’t crum­ble un­der the weight of real world in­ter­ac­tion. We grav­i­tate to­wards heroes that ei­ther share traits we al­ready pos­sess, to jus­tify our­selves through vi­car­i­ous living, or we se­lect ones that have a qual­ity we lack, to in­spire per­sonal de­vel­op­ment. Why I loved Robbie Williams says more about me as a 15-year-old kid, and I don’t know if that’s some­thing the Sharp Man is clam­our­ing to read about (if I’m wrong, feel free to drop me a line — we can talk about your high school affin­ity for Mas­ter P, too).

There will come a time when the me­dia won’t re­late any and all dis­cus­sions back to Trump. Whether he de­serves to be or not, he is a hero to a broad swath of Amer­i­can men. Does he jus­tify, or in­spire? Ei­ther op­tion is fore­bod­ing. In Canada, we have a dif­fer­ent, if re­lated prob­lem: our Prime Min­is­ter may just be a bet­ter role model than he is a politi­cian. Still, as some­one who name-checked Pierre Trudeau along with Robbie Williams in his grad­u­a­tion quote, I’m much more con­tent with the lat­ter, even as I re­al­ize that, de­spite rhetoric and in­flu­ence, po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are prob­a­bly not a good re­flec­tion of the heroes we need.

But we do need heroes. We tend to think of idols as mark­ers of child­hood — things we dis­card as we dis­cover who we re­ally are. But, that’s con­flat­ing ar­ro­gance with ma­tu­rity. As I get older, I’m re­al­iz­ing that man­hood is about find­ing the bal­ance be­tween fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the peo­ple you look up to, while also, yes carv­ing your own path so that you can men­tor oth­ers. This is­sue — like all issues of Sharp, ac­tu­ally — has sev­eral men worth em­u­lat­ing, wholly or in part. From Sci­ence Hero Bill Nye, to our cover star, most fa­mous for play­ing the role of the Heroiest Hero ever to hit the screen. And that’s just two.

Here we come to save the day. All of us.



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