When I saw Seabiscuit, a movie about an underdog horse (i.e. underhorse) who brings hope to a nation during the Great Depression, I liked it but didn't quite get the point. Why did the public feel that the horse does someting for them? I felt the movie left out something important.
Recently, I saw Cinderella Man, a movie about an underdog pugilist (i.e. boxer) who brings hope to a nation during the Great Depression, I liked it too (although not as much as the underhorse). And again, I didn't quite get the point. How could that one man lift the spirit of the nation by beating someone else to a bloody pulp and/or being himself beaten to a bloody pulp?
Two movies, both well directed and acted, and yet both based on an idea that seems totally alien to me. I don't know any comparable story from the Czech history (or non-U.S. history, for that matter). I can imagine Depression. I can imagine under-someone rising against the odds. I cannot imagine this fact helping me to overcome the Depression (and my own depression, resulting from the Depression).
Is it possible that North Americans are brought up in such a way that they need idols and heroes to forget about their own hardships? It would certainly seem that there is a trend to "manufacture" heroes during the hard times. I watched in disbelief when I heard repeated ad nauseam that "all people who died during the attacks on September 11 are heroes (except the ones who piloted the planes, of course, those are not people)". Note the word "all". Somehow, I cannot equate the act of "being at his workplace in the morning of September 11, 2001" with the definition of the word "hero". I always thought that one becomes "hero" by doing something, not by being at the right (wrong) place at the right (wrong) time, not necessarily doing anything at all.
But maybe America needs it.