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The Heroes

Cover art by Nic Fife (@n.fife)

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The Yorker Team Editor Violet Daniels Deputy Editor for Content Eleanor Jefferys Magazine Editor Rachael Hayward Managing Director Sian Erskine Deputy Managing Director Maya Ahuja-Hofheiz Financial Director Alex Davies Marketing Director Ellie Smith Deputy Marketing Director Hannah Hosking


Editors’ Note A

Violet Daniels

s with all words, “heroes” manifests multiple meanings. Historically, it is usually associated with the Great War and the fallen British dead that sacrificed their lives, as the commemoration of the end of the First World War comes to a close, we believed it apt to reflect on the multiple meaning s of “heroes”. The concept of “heroes” is so transient, it can have personal, historic and individual connotations but above all it is a celebration of the individuals who we aspire to be, or who we think need to be given more attention. My journey with The Yorker started in October 2017, it is now February 2019 and nearly the end of my time as Editor. It has had numerable ups and downs, but the ride has always been the most pleasant of journeys. I have made many friends, gained many opportunities and loved my time working with what I think is such an important media outlet on campus. We may not be the biggest, but our place will always be needed within the University of York. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who I have worked with throughout 2017-2019, and in particular, the current Board of Directors without which this wouldn’t be possible. We did it! And of course, all the Editors and writers who have written such invigorating and creative content. We hope this issue will provide people with some inspiration, hope and lightness in a period which is somewhat overshadowed by so much uncertainty.

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Rachael Hayward

n November of last year, I joined the Yorker team, hoping the position of magazine editor would provide a much need outlet for my creativity, something that is not easy to channel as an economics student. This magazine edition is the first I have been a part of, and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s not all been sunshine and rainbows (me and my laptop have had numerous arguments along the way), but ultimately I’ve found the whole endeavour, overcoming problems and producing a finished result, to be extremely rewarding. Since this was my first issue to be involved with, I would like to thank the rest of The Yorker team for being extremely patient while I was finding my feet with the role; I’m sure my relentless questions were a tad irritating so I’m grateful for everyone’s help and kindness. All of us at The Yorker hope you enjoy reading this magazine as much as we enjoyed putting it together!


Contents The Yorker Team Our Editors’ Heroes Stan Lee War Heroes Forgotten Heroes Peace Heroes Animal Heroes The Cult of a Hero Mindful Errant Enheduanna Yellow Wristband Psychology of a Hero Medical Researchers Condescension of Heroes DC and Marvel Summary of Our Heroes Spiritual Guru Anie Hu Creative Writing Competition Hero Narrative in Gaming Behind the Eyes Phil Lynott ‘Hero’ in Political Films Ex-Forces Support

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Our Editors’ Heroes Violet Daniels (Editor) 3rd Year History Student

It is easy to idealise individuals and not consider their fallibility as human beings. I’ve never really considered anyone my “hero” as I have some fundamental problems with the term. However, if you’re asking me who I admire, I will always say Jo Cox. In the midst of the Brexit campaign in 2016, Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered in broad daylight by Thomas Mair, a holder of far-right, extremist views that collided with Cox’s vision of universal compassion. I do not admire Jo Cox solely for her political position and aspirations, but the kind of humanity she stood for. She looked to celebrate difference in everything and fully believed in the ability to coexist peacefully side by side, “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” This may have become her tagline in death, but the meanings she insured will always be relevant as we enter a never-ending fractious world. Her assurance of mutual strength and cooperation over disunity is the type of message we should all admire and never lose sight of. Clarke Travis (Games Editor) 3rd Year Interactive Media Student As with most growing up in the region that I did, my hero is none other than footballer Alan Shearer. Probably the most famous Geordie in the world and a man from the same kind of working-class background as most from the area, myself included. He is the Premier League’s and Newcastle United’s all-time leading goalscorer, he was the captain of England and was the catalyst for many in the North East to get into football. To achieve all of that from the same kind of upbringing as I had is the reason he is admired by those in the North East.

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Rachael Hayward (Magazine Editor) 2nd Year Economics Student As cliché as it may be, the figure most resembling a ‘hero’ in my life has always been, and will continue to be, my Dad. I won’t list his extensive accomplishments and achievements, because honestly (in the nicest way) he doesn’t have many. What he does have, however, is an attitude that is almost impossible to find: he’s always effortlessly happy. In every earliest memory I have, my Dad is always smiling and laughing. Unlike so many people, he isn’t bitter about what life has dealt him; he is simply content with how things have played out and grateful for what he has. A few years ago I remember thinking ‘my Dad carries the sun around with him’, a simple, and rather embarassing, metaphor that has stayed with me, as I’m yet to think of a better way to describe him. Ever since then his contact on my phone has been saved with a sun emoji next to it. More than any of that though, my Dad is kind and overwhelmingly thoughtful. If I wasn’t in a happy place, I was lucky enough to always have someone to sit with me and listen, or talk, or sometimes just sit and say nothing at all. And if I couldn’t make my own sunshine, he always had some to spare. I mean, raising a teenage girl single-handedly, what’s more heroic than that?

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Words by: Rachael Hayward

Stan Lee

November 2018 marked the sad passing of the renowned comic book writer, editor and publisher, Stan Lee, partly inspiring our underlying theme of ‘superheroes’ in this edition of The Yorker.

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he man behind so many celebrated heroes, including Spiderman, Iron Man, and The Hulk, Stan Lee carved his legacy as a real-life superhero to so many all over the world who grew up with his incredible comics filled with remarkable characters.

his readers that you do not need to be exceptional to be extraordinary. This admirable theme that emulated from Lee’s characters that anybody is capable of doing great things went even further. He broke away from convention in his characterisation, displaying heroes of all race, gender, age, and abilities. Daredevil was blind. Black Panther was African American. Numerous superheroes, Black Widow, Jean Grey and Susan Storm were empowered female characters.

His stories provided an escape from reality to a world where anything is possible. More importantly, he demonstrated to both children and adults in his comics that heroes can exist from even the most unremarkable of people. Lee himself described his vision for Spiderman as ‘not that goodlooking, not that successful with girls, he didn’t have a lot of money… he’s an orphan who lives with his Aunt’, and many of his superheroes had similar mundane problems in his comics, such as dandruff and acne. By making his characters apparently unexceptional and average, Lee instilled confidence in not just young people, but all

‘Marvel has been and always will be a reflection of the world right outside our window’ 3


Stan Lee emphasised ‘Marvel has been and always will be a reflection of the world right outside our window’, which is presented within his inclusivity amongst his characters, mirroring and inspiring the diversity seen in the real world.

fiction, miles away from the average person. Superheroes can be anyone. Ultimately, a hero is someone who helps those around them and does the right thing by other people, whether its saving the world from villains or saving the world from illness. Superheroes can be found ‘right outside our window’. When addressing his fans, Lee would even open by exclaiming ‘hi heroes’, echoing the theme throughout his work that anybody has the potential to be a hero, and perhaps there’s a heroic streak in everyone, even the most ordinary of people.

An aspect of Stan Lee’s comics that is particularly profound is his engagement with the human behind the hero. With many characters he explores the deeper emotions that accompany the status of ‘superhero’: feelings of guilt; intense responsibility; difficult sacrifice; heavy hardship. He humanised his heroes, which went Stan Lee will be greatly missed, a further in communicating that beloved hero in all of our hearts. superheroes are not simply pure

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Words by: Rachael Hayward

War Heroes S

ome may perhaps scrutinise whether war heroes, who more often than not participated in acts of violence, can even be considered as heroes. However, many more would argue their bravery and selfsacrifice in the pursuit of peace is what installs the notion of ‘heroism’.

strongest of men: friends dying, leaving the wounded, relentless and bitter fighing. But for many the objective was clear: this was the cost for peace and their country needed them. They fought for a better future for generations to come and a simple vision of hope. So many lives were sacrificed for the cause, Either within your education and those lucky enough to return or from relatives, most would were plagued by their experience, have learnt about the appalling all in the name of peace. Surely scenes that faced armed forces this warrants the term ‘war heroes’. during World War I, and yet it is still difficult in the world we live There are countless individuals in today to envision what it was to mention, but one in particular really like. A whole generation of was Albert Ball, who joined the men’s lives were transformed by army when war broke out in 1914 war. Among these were hundreds at just 18 years old, training as a of thousands of boys under the fighter pilot. Back then, he was legal age restriction of 19, enlisted considered the first ‘celebrity pilot’. into the army either through Today, he is recognised as one desperation or just ignorance. All of Britain’s best aviators, with 44 were subject to the same shocking confirmed victories in air combat. sights that would scar even the Despite these successes in war, 5


Ball always maintained his strong moral compass, writing ‘I hate this game. But it is the only thing one must do just now. Won’t it be lovely when all this beastly killing is over and we can just enjoy ourselves and not hurt anyone’. He contributed massively to victory and peace, but sadly he would never live to witness it: he was killed in 1917 after combat with German planes in limited visibility. Following his death at just 20 years old, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery.

The Red Remembrance Poppy

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red poppy is viewed as a symbol of remembrance for all who died in World War I. The narrative of how these vibrant flowers came to be the universal mark of respect is actually quite touching. The war

wreaked havoc in the countryside of Western Europe, transforming tranquil scenes of beauty into barren wastelands. However, from this muddy landscape, thousands of red Flanders poppies flourished from the earth, creating a sea of colour. This sight was captured by the now famous poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’, written by Lt. Col John McCrae who had just lost a friend when he saw the poppies in 1915.

We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields. Extract from ‘InFlandersFields’, John McCrae 6


Words by: Rachael Hayward

Forgotten Heroes A

long with celebrated heroes like Ball, it is just as important to acknowledge those who are so often overlooked. As soon as war was announced, huge numbers of black servicemen from colonies in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia offered up their support and loyalty, fighting alongside allies against German forces. Lionel Turpin, a Guyanese, came to Britain as a merchant seaman. Following the outbreak of war, he would enlist in the army in 1915 at aged 19. He actually joined the army at the York Depot of the York and Lancaster regiment. He was sent out to the Western front and fought bravely in the battles of the Somme, acquiring two medals for his war efforts. In 1919, Turpin survived being wounded and gassed, however, these injuries would continue to haunt him until

his death in 1929 from ‘war related injuries’. Although he died long after the war ended, it is clear it was his noble service, fighting for peace, that ultimately ended his life. Black servicemen not only suffered from racial prejudice during their service, they were subject to the same racist attitudes once they were demobilised. Facing theses kinds of obstacles, it truly is remarkable that these men gave so much to what they called the ‘Mother Country’, loyally fighting for Britain and allies.

© DOROTHY HALL COLLECTION

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The Black Remembrance Poppy

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black poppy remembers the contributions made by African, Asian and Caribbean communities who participated in World War I. Among the various remembrance poppies, this one seems to be the least widely recognised. An initiative

called the ‘black poppy rose’ was launched in 2010 to make the black poppy a nation-wide symbol of remembrance. Perhaps we will see more of them in years to come.

Words by: Rachael Hayward Words By: Rachael Hayward

Peace Heroes

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ar heroes decorated with medals from their service in combat tend to occupy our attention more than those who avoided the element of fighting altogether. However, these individuals are still heroes, even if they weren’t recognised as that back then. Now that times have changed and the social stigma lies in the past, we are able to reflect on the war, respecting the bravery of those who fought, while equally appreciating the bravery of those who refused.

declined to fight, for perhaps religious, political, or moral beliefs, were referred to as ‘conscientious objectors’. Unfortunately, they were subject to overwhelming abuse from the public, both physically and emotionally. Propaganda was spread to turn popular opinion against these men and to make them feel ashamed for letting their country down.

Thousands of conscientious objectors were forced to appear before tribunals where authorities When conscription was would decide whether their implemented in 1915, those who objections were justified. Most 8


were rejected. They either agreed to a non-combat role in the war or, if they refused to have any participation at all, they could face imprisonment. In the UK, approximately 6,000 innocent men were sent to prison, 73 of which died from the horrendous conditions that awaited. Even upon returning home, conscientious objectors would often be disowned by their families, friends and employers: they became social outcasts simply due of their beliefs.

A conscientious objector in WW1 was no less of a hero than those who fought. The war still took it’s profound emotional and physical toll, however, for them when the war ended, instead of returning to respect and admiration, they returned to disgust and scrutiny. With this in mind, their bravery and resilience in defending what they believed was right is incredible and should be remembered just the same as other ‘war heroes’.

The White Remembrance Poppy

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he white remembrance poppy is making an increasingly common appearance in the run up to Remembrance day. A symbol of commitment to peace, the white poppy recognises all victims of war including those who did not participate in the fighting. While acknowledging the importance of continuing the memory of all who lost their lives, the white poppy also emphasises the avoidance of conflict and the importance of not romanticising war in any way.

the traditional red poppy already encompasses the sentiments of the white one, therefore by having a white poppy in circulation, it implies that the red poppy glorifies war and hence does not promote peace, which isn’t the case. Nevertheless, the Royal British Legion has no preference when in comes to which poppy you decide to wear: a popular choice is wearing both a red and white poppy side by side.

However, there have been some controversies concerning the white poppy. Many argue that 9


Words by: Rachael Hayward

Animal Heroes C

ountless animals did their bit for WW1, losing their lives for man-made conflict. Most people are likely to have heard of the widespread use of dogs and horses, but a much wider variety than that were enlisted: carrier pigeons were essential for delivering vital messages, unusual animals like black bears were used as mascots, foxes were used as war companions, and a baboon was even used by south African soldiers.

enough to have survived the First World War had a bleak future ahead of 1918. High numbers of older or weaker horses were simply left behind and not brought back to Britain, some were sold to farmers for a life of hard manual labour, and some were even sold for meat, after everything they had been through. However, this was not the case for all valiant war horses: organisations such as the Blue Cross and the RSPCA gathered donations to give these animals a retirement fit for their heroic service, resulting in thousands being rescued and given a good life.

With over a million horses and mules deployed by the British Army, they were undeniably the backbone of the war effort. They were used as supply horses, gun horses, cavalry, and many other harsh roles that involved them being exposed on the front line, hence mortality rates for these animals were shockingly high. Even those horses lucky

Another fundamental animal during the war was the humble dog, man’s best friend. Dogs performed numerous tasks: they hugely boosted troop morale, they were able to signal for poison-gas and 10


other such attacks, they could deal with pest problems in trenches, and they could locate wounded soldiers on the battlefield. One admirable dog was an American Pit Bull Terrier called ‘Sergeant Stubby’, who was the only pooch to be given the rank of sergeant. Stubby participated in 17 battles, 4 offences and was greatly loved by those around him. As well as gas attacks, he was able to warn of incoming artillery fire, keeping his men safe. Surviving the war, Stubby was smuggled home by Robert Conroy and his fame continued for many years until his peaceful death in 1926.

to another, Carrier pigeons were used extensively for army communication. One remarkable Blue Check hen was named ‘Cher Ami’, who delivered 12 critical massages during her service. On her last mission, this carrier pigeon delivered the message despite being shot, a note that ultimately saved 194 soldiers. Cher Ami was decorated with the French ‘Croix de Guerre with palm’ for her heroic contributions to victory. A final noteworthy, and rather unorthodox, animal to mention is Jackie the Baboon who served in the 3rd South African Infantry Regiment. He was enlisted into the army with his owner, Albert Marr, and was treated much like

In a time where it was near enough impossible to get a message from one side of the country

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any other soldier: he had his own uniform, pay book and rations, and would solute superior officers just like everyone else. Jackie proved himself an asset to the armed forces, with his superior vision and hearing allowing him to signal of impending attacks by pulling on soldier’s tunics. He even saved Marr’s life when he was injured in battle by staying with him and tending to his wounds. However, in 1918 when the infantry brigade was being heavily shelled, Jackie himself was hurt, resulting in his leg being amputated. In spite of this, Jackie, the courageous baboon, survived the war along with his owner, and went back to a peaceful life as a rather famous family pet after his service.

The Purple Remembrance Poppy

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he purple poppy is a symbol of remembrance for all animals who have become victims of war. It was created in 2006 by the charity Animal Aid, who continued to sell them until 2015. Feeling their message was being misunderstood, they included a paw print symbol onto their poppy, however, in 2016 the charity Murphy’s Army took over, launching the new Purple Poppy Campaign. This campaign aimed to raise awareness of the poppy and its underlying message,

as well as encouraged the public on Remembrance Day to pay tribute to the animals that served in the war and the animals that continue to serve us today. Purple poppies are becoming increasingly popular: in 2018, every single purple poppy sold out according to Murphy’s Army, generating £14,000 for their selected charities, but more importantly, raising awareness.

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The Cult of a Hero:

Musings of a Third Year History Student Words by: Violet Daniels “Hero” as a term is thrown around regularly within society and the records of history. Consequently, the way we use “hero” today is drastically different from the past, largely influenced by the aftermath of both wars where diplomats and politicians were immortalised as heroic national saviours. In recent years, the concept of the “hero” has been all but erased from narrative constructions of history. It seems everybody but nobody is a hero in the blaze of current media and spectacle. The advent of reality television programmes such as Love Island and the accompanying celebrity culture deems those who are prize winners of these programmes as “heroes” and people to aspire to. They are considered so inspiring that they are given their own social media platform and accompanying fashion line deals. Young people follow them like puppy’s in the wealth of false aspiration they portray. I cannot help but think this contemporary cult of the self-aggrandising hero is aided by the widespread use of social media. We are all compelled by platforms to present the best versions of ourselves

Stanley Cecil Daniels

which supports the celebrity heroism culture and narrative displayed in the present day. As the term “hero” changes its meanings, perhaps it is worthy to look at its boundaries in history and beyond. Within current understandings of history, the cult of the hero as a narrative of recognition and change has almost disappeared from the history books. However, it continues to define how we view past events and historical change, with little room for recognition of the plight of the ordinary person. 13


What is a hero then? History often likes to point to standardised heroes to infer positive, historical change and progression. The use of figureheads as a monument of progress is a way in which to symbolise and self-justify the path of human progress. Heroes are conceived of individuals (historically predominantly male) who have been admired for their outstanding achievements and noble qualities. Evidently, there is no problem with recognising amicable and valiant efforts at face value. However, conceptualising history as a smooth, progressive timeline documenting the achievements of select individuals is essentially problematic. It forms grand narratives which belittle the role of the individual and their contributions in history. It is all well and good to focus on the Winston Churchills of history, but this ignores the place of the individual. Heroes often correlate with the commemoration of war. Britain’s acclaimed national hero, now seen on our five-pound notes, Winston Churchill was considered to be the man who won the Second World War. Known for his inspiring speeches, proclamations of never giving in and maintainer of national pride, it would be easy to claim him as Britain’s war hero. Indeed, even in 2017 we still celebrated his heroic efforts, as witnessed in Jonathan Teplitzky’s film, Churchill. The film sucks up to the trials and tribulations of the man who lead Britain through the Second World

War, in the luxury of his plush office whilst 383,700 British men lost their lives and a further 67,200 civilians perished in the name of diplomacy and national courage. History has begun to recognise the danger of heroic narratives with the rise of social history focusing on the importance of the individual and the everyday, in shaping and re-defining national narratives. The exploration of individual efforts should be at the forefront of our visions of heroes, as opposed to the figureheads that we are still drawn to. And the “heroes” portrayed to us by current celerity and social media culture. Just one example is my greatgrandfather, Stanley Cecil Daniels, born in 1897 he fought in the First World War as a machine gunner and was part of the Home Guard in the Second World War. It was a life very much defined by both wars and the act of self-sacrifice. The individuals making up the war generation should be focused on as our national heroes, rather than those singular, heroic figureheads we still like to represent. Stanley Daniels probably never conceived of himself as a hero in his time – just part of doing his bit to represent his country. However, this very mentality forms the validity of the antihero, a recognition of the efforts of the ordinary and opposition to the use of the term so freely without full understanding of its meaning. 14

Stanley Cecil Daniels was the great-


grandfather I never had the pleasure of meeting but who I have gotten to know through reading the letters he wrote to my great-grandmother, Margery Olive Wake, throughout the First World War and the remainder of the twentieth century. Through conducting a dissertation on letter writing my perceptions of heroes have changed in recognising the efforts and life of just one of many individual heroes. Indeed, it is far easier to focus on the efforts of well-known individuals and public popularity will motivate their cause. However, beneath the surface the contributions of past individuals need greater consideration.

But let’s face it, who cares about historical narratives unless you’re a history student? The immortalising of national heroes and figureheads is more than just history, but politically motivated agenda used to format public perception of historical change and contribution. It is selfaggrandising and fuelled by the fire of national pride. Primary school British war curriculum will focus on figurehead heroes which could lend itself to false perceptions or ignorance of the everyday people. We should champion an approach to history from a young age which celebrates the efforts of the ordinary, as well as the extraordinary. The story of history is the story of past and present societies, despite it seeming insignificant, it informs how we perceive of the present world around us. Thus, it is imperative that we get it right.

There has got to be many families across the country who have shoe boxes stuffed with letters at the bottom of their wardrobes. The more these are recognised the more ordinary heroes we can commemorate, the plight of diplomacy as the path to heroic endeavour will slowly be erased with the agency of the common individual.

“We should champion an approach to history from a young age which celebrates the efforts of the ordinary, as well as the extraordinary.” 15


Mindful Errant Mindful errant, buxom was he, and the armour shone its silvery, the red dust not yet dimming. Awkward dance beneath heavy armour, swords playing their brief-brush music, clanks amidst a dying chorus. From Wotan their music came, god of frenzy, one-eyed wanderer, and smiled beneath the tree. Hour after hour, clumps of the timeglass fell, unnoticed, a queer suspension, flattened out with rich sound, sword upon sword, densely weaved, and the moment heavying, the moment they shared, those two, the black boar-helm and leopard-bear.

Gretel Karplus

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Enheduanna: An Unsung Hero for Writers

Words by: Saffy Cook

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ne of a hero’s most important duties is to open new doors for the people who come after them. It makes sense then, for the earliest non-anonymous writer to have lived a heroic life, one embodying the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword. Although we don’t know the name she was born with, we know her title: Enheduanna, ‘High Priestess of the sky God An’ or possibly ‘wife of the moon goddess Nanna’. Most importantly, we have at least some of her writings, thanks to scribes copying them out numerous times as training.

created a Queen of Heaven; the three hymns and over forty poems she wrote changed the way people viewed the gods, presenting the goddess Ianna as superior to other local deities. She also developed the figure of the moon goddess Nanna, which made her own position in Nanna’s temple more important. The political implications of her writings were huge, as they strengthened the position of her father, Sargon of Akkad. The added importance she gave Ianna allowed everyone to worship her, and this brought communities who had previously been devoted to separate gods together. The sense of unity this created helped Sargon of Akkad to rule for fifty-five years. Even after her father’s death, Enheduanna remained as high priest during the reigns of two of her brothers and a nephew. Despite a coup that led to her being briefly exiled, she was restored to her temple, after writing a plea to Ianna for help; a plea

Enheduanna is believed to be the first woman granted the position of High Priestess in Ur, the largest city in Sumer and the centre of her father’s empire. The ‘En’ in her title signifies that she was highly respected and had significant political power. Her duty was to somehow bring together the Sumerian and Akkadian Gods, and maintain religious stability in the region—it seems likely that she exceeded all expectations. Her words 17


which demonstrated how to express personal hopes and fears in writing. Perhaps she didn’t fight in battles like other heroes. She was still a leader, setting an example for other priestesses, changing perspectives on religion with her writing, continuing on as high priestess despite everything stacked against her, and writing hymns and poetry which would influence future poets for thousands of years. Even now, she stands at the start of an often overlooked female literary tradition and demonstrates for all aspiring authors what their craft has achieved, and how some individuals have overcome everything telling them to keep silent, since people first decided to record their thoughts in writing.

Bas-relief portrait of Enheduanna

The ruins of Giparu, the temple where Enheduanna lived and was buried 18


The Heroism of a Yellow Wristband

Words by: Niels Boender

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hile my parents, who raised me in the flat and rather unexciting lowlands of Holland, never inspired in me a great sense of cycling adventure, my mother’s parents come from the sole hilly area of the Netherlands, the province of Limburg. In this serpentine panhandle that stretches halfway into Belgium, where a dialect of Dutch is spoken that lies far closer to Kölsch German, they are mad for road cycling. Every summer my grandpa is glued to his television for three weeks, watching all three thousand plus kilometres of that year’s Tour de France, as well as going on regular long tours himself, most recently all the way to Rome. This has always impressed me to no end, but one thing has always left me wondering and it relates to cycling’s long-winded struggle with doping and substance abuse. The reason: my grandpa, out of reverence, defiance or charity still wears his Livestrong wristband.

charity that supports people with cancer founded by, and intimately bound up with the image of, (in)famous cyclist Lance Armstrong. Armstrong was, and still is for many, a genuine hero, an inspiration who survived testicular cancer and went on to win cycling’s biggest race, the Tour de France, seven times in the early 2000s, whilst raising over five hundred million dollars for his foundation. The inspiration Armstrong is/was for many is testified by the fact that eighty million of the iconic yellow wristbands were sold and formed a powerful symbol for the fight against cancer. However, the veneer of heroism was dashed in 2012, when it was revealed he had used performance-enhancing drugs since his comeback in 1998. He was stripped of all his major titles, received a lifetime ban and a US Anti-Doping Agency investigation called him the ringleader of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and These wristbands, are sold by successful doping program that the Livestrong Foundation, a sport has ever seen”. In an emotional 19


interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013, he admitted to his crimes, but still clung to some denials that lost him much credibility.

death threats when he continued wearing his Livestrong wristband after the 2012 revelations. The intensity of these reactions matches the emotions that sport evokes.

However, support remains. People like my grandpa, who have lost people to cancer, and were deeply emotionally connected to cycling, stuck with a man that had got them through the suffering and grief of their own disease and that of family members. Furthermore, it is hard to understand how deep some individuals are emotionally committed to road cycling. It is a sport filled with great tales of heroism, overcoming individual hardship and performing epic dramas in dramatic surroundings. No Tour, Giro or Vuelta is complete without tears, controversies and surprises. People have died on mountains in recent memory. Most importantly, many if not most, committed fans go on substantial tours themselves, creating a deep communion with the men and women that they witness every season. Many fans could not let go of Armstrong, but simultaneously many felt intensely betrayed by their hero, who had sworn his innocence for more than a decade. The most famous Dutch sports journalist, Mart Smeets, received

This was all brought home to me in recent days, as my grandma died suddenly. Like so many people, it was cancer, which had suddenly spread. I had returned to the Netherlands to be with my family and bury her and was sat in my grandpa’s now quiet apartment. I saw around his wrist the old Livestrong wristband. Suddenly I understood the vast swathe of emotions that went into wearing that band. It had morphed as a symbol, from one that expressed resilience and bravery to one of outright defiance. Defiance of the disease that Armstrong survived and took my grandma, a defiance of the grief that could easily take one at such a moment. Armstrong is no longer a hero in the eyes of most, but the feeling of heroism that so many felt has been permanently encoded in the wristband. While the man may have fallen away, the feeling remains and like that, it continues to inspire.

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The Psychology of a Hero Words by: Lauren Pugh

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s a society, we idolise heroes. They give us hope, something to aspire to be and they light the eyes of children (and adults) who stuff their faces with popcorn whilst watching Spiderman save innocent people from the terrifying grips of evil. Phew. But, what makes a hero?

to foresee Spiderman saving lives because he’s going to benefit from a huge sum of money, or doctors saving lives because that person may then go on to save theirs someday. Reciprocal altruism is not deemed a bad thing, but when put into the context of a hero, it doesn’t quite fit the bill- if, indeed, pure altruism is Firstly, it may be useful to delve a fantasy created by us to fulfil our into some general definitions of a desires of humans being truly good. hero; some define them as people who put themselves at risk of harm Another aspect that seems to help others, they’re people who prominent is that there seems to do good deeds with no expectation be no bystander effect- when in a of reward and these good deeds are group of people, if something bad done voluntarily, they defy all laws- happens that needs a response, we in some cases- to help those who are are less likely to help than when vulnerable and some believe that a alone. Heroes seem to bypass this true hero encompasses all of these. effect completely, springing to action immediately if someone is As is evident, a common theme of in trouble. What causes them to what makes a hero is someone who do this? Afterall it is a uniquely is very altruistic, they help others human trait, and something that with no expectation of anything happens subconsciously. Which in return. True altruism is often a begs the question of whether their debated concept in psychology in cognitive functioning is different that, there always seems to be an in social situations than most other ulterior motive behind people’s people. Group theories, specifically helping behaviours; but, it’s difficult social identity theory, states that 21


you favour the group you belong to more than other groups. When applied to the bystander effect, you favour the group you are in, i.e the bystanders, more than the person who has been hurt or needs help, therefore to help the ‘outgroup’ would be going against the norms of your ‘ingroup.’ Now, if heroes are unable to cognitively represent group norms, does this point the finger and suggestively raise the eyebrows at a disorder in which ‘social skills’ are impaired?

“True altruism is often a debated concept in psychology in that there always seems to be an ulterior motive behind people’s helping behaviours” “If heroes are unable to cognitively represent group norms, does this point the finger and suggestively raise the eyebrows at a disorder in which ‘social skills’ are impaired?”

There’s no denying that heroes are good people, no matter whether they’re truly altruistic or expect good deeds in return. Or whether their social skills are impaired or whether they just hate the status quo of humans resembling a wet piece of lettuce when required to do anything mildly useful. All that matters is that they exist, and if they didn’t, the world would be much worse for it.

© Lauren Pugh Photography @lhpphotography11 22


Save One Life You’re a Hero, Save Thousands... And You’re a Medical Researcher. Words by Marcella Conning-Rowland

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ecently the news has returned to the pressing topic of antibiotic resistance and our desperate need for new antibiotics. Without the emergence of new treatments which prove more effective against the resistant bugs, we risk returning to the dark days where death can be inflicted by a single tiny cut. This turned my mind to the emergence of antibiotics in the first place, and how there are so many other medicines that have transformed our lives (and life expectancies) for the better. I don’t know about you, but I would say those developing the medicines are as close to heroes as you get nowadays.

that paid or not, these people put their heart, soul – and a lot of brain power – into the improvement of the lives of others.

To begin with, the drug development process requires someone to find a target they think might be involved in causing a disease. They then need to amount enough evidence that this is crucial enough to the disease to set up a team of people to work on the target. Next, literally thousands of molecules and compounds can be sorted to find a few that may act on the target identified, this gruelling process requires a lot of dedication, and a whole lot of intellect One could argue that it is the to sort all the data acquired. job of many drug researchers, and academics to increase Once these few ‘lead’ compounds understanding of disease and find are identified the real hard work ways to tackle them, however begins! These compounds need to being 6 months into my university be adapted to give the best possible placement in industrial drug chance of them altering the disease development, I can assure you process, then a whole host of 23


safety and efficacy tests must be slogged through. These comprise of computerised models, cells and animal testing (yes, this is a legal requirement). These processes are rigorously controlled by more laws than you can dream of and unswervingly devoted researchers must jump through a multitude of legal hoops to ensure that the drugs they are attempting to make have the highest chance of being approved for human consumption.

possible drug. This process takes a long time. Understandably finding patients with the disease willing to take a bet on an experimental medicine can prove tricky, and measuring long term effects over time requires detailed follow up and meticulous investigation. If you are lucky, at the end of this process you have a drug which can then go to market, and literally save lives. Those less fortunate, are left at the end of this approximately 12-year period, with a drug that Through all of this, researchers doesn’t work, or has side effects must attend numerous project too unfortunate, or simply not as meetings. These require battle good as those existing. Don’t worry against budgets and rival projects, though, they will go right back to to convince those in charge start and throw themselves into a that your project is important, new project with just as much gusto and you can make a difference. as before, praying that this time they will make a working drug. Finally, the clinical trial is reached! Maybe 5 of the original thousands Whilst it is extremely rare (possibly of molecules screened will make it non-existent) for one team of to this point, where a few willing people to take a medicine all the human participants will test the way through this process, each 24


person on each team along the way understands the importance of the drug, they are there because they want to help others (definitely not for an easy life), and they will throw everything they have into pushing each new medicine that bit closer to a stage where it can really help people.

the medicine making machine will once again run smoothly. Not to worry though, everything possible will be done to ensure that research will not stop. People will fight tooth and nail to ensure that next time you visit your doctor to discuss your ailments, he can say “It’s fine, there’s a pill for that”.

With Brexit coming up, medical researchers in the UK face even more hurdles, whereas before the UK had common standards with the EU on evidence required now there is risk of these diverging and slowing the process of production further. Import and exports may be slowed for Britain during the transition period, this may delay the acquisition of vital ingredients or sending of samples into other areas in the EU for quality checks. There will be countless little adjustments to be made which need to be worked out to ensure

So, next time you find yourself under the weather and in need of some medical assistance, take a moment to reflect on the countless hours of hard work and heroic dedication that have gone into the development of whatever treatment your doctor offers you. If you are so unlucky as to have an illness with no current treatment, I can assure you, that there is most likely a lab somewhere with people slogging away to ensure that situation changes.

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‘Heroes’ - Why the Dubbing of Soldiers May Fall into Condescension Words by: Eleanor Paisley The New Year marked the end of the centenary of the Great War. Rarely do people think about it throughout their busy working weeks, until the 11th November comes back around, war stories plastered in newspapers and television shows. For those who lived through it, however, it will never be anything less than a wound that refuses to close. So to mark the end of 2018, I wanted to commemorate those who gave their lives, sanity, youth and innocence for the war by highlighting the fallen conception of ‘heroism’.

charity that endorses the care and appreciation of veterans uses the word. Yet, many men who have been dubbed ‘heroes’ are embarrassed, ashamed, or angry. The stories behind their ‘heroism’ are often intensely emotional and inhumanly difficult; many men who should have been respected and remembered either ended up in a dead-end job - forgotten - or on the streets where no one knew the burdens they dragged be-hind them, or are now rotting in a foreign land, buried where they lay, or returned to their families, mentally broken, frustrated and distanced from who they were ‘before’.

A hero stands, one foot on the chest of the enemy, proudly posing in his uniform. He will be revered and respected by all, never forgotten. Whether he saved a damsel in distress, or a whole country from the clutches of a dictatorship, he is our hero…

Should not such a word, used often enough to be made obsolete, be saved for comic books, and fairytale knights in shining armour? The word originated from the ancient Greek ‘hēros’ which literally meant ‘demi-god’, and was The connotations of heroism taken on in Latin, traded down follow a little like this. Even the the line to middle-English where 27


it was used in fictional terms. Now it is used mainly to describe soldiers - male figures who are apparently fearless and desirable. The modern connotations evidently have many detrimental effects on the confidence of the genders; if you’re male, you must aspire to this ludicrous level; female and you will never be taken seriously enough to achieve it, but are given the sub-name ‘heroine’; any other gender and your identity is lost in association.

freezing mud, learning how to sleep upright against the trench wall or the parapet, how to avoid imperceptible bullets and shrapnel scattered in the rancid air around him. Trench-foot was a constant concern, and an humiliating and potentially disabling ailment to end up with. As young as eighteen, he was suddenly amidst a kind of chaos he couldn’t hitherto have conceived. Some even younger boys managed to blag their way to the front, assuming they would quickly be turned into men - a common connotation of ‘heroism’ - rather than being shattered either internally by PTSD (PostTraumatic Stress Disorder, or ‘Shell Shock’), or externally by a bomb, a bullet, a bayonet or any manner of other things. In the name of ‘heroism’, alongside patriotism, and blind duty, they fought,

The most recent piece of literature to come to mind for me was Somme Mud: the fictionalised diary of Australian infantryman E. P. F. Lynch. Like so many young soldiers of WWI, he set off with feelings of excitement and brotherhood, causing mischief and bantering all the way from Sydney to France. Fooled by liars, they anticipated becoming heroes, and attaining glory. They had no inkling of the reality, or whether the path to ‘manhood’ was worth time in the trenches.

Where are they now on Statedoles, or showing shop patterns Or walking town to town sore in borrowed tatterns Or begged. Some civic routine one never learns. The heart burns - but has to keep out of face how heart burns. Ivor Gurney, Strange Hells, 1922

Lynch’s first trench experience was not what he expected, because no one reported on the conditions soldiers had to live in. He was two weeks waist-deep in 28


No matter their motivation, be it ‘law [or] duty’, ‘public man [or] cheering crowds’ or even a ‘lonely impulse of delight’, once they arrived they had very little choice. They had to fight, or else be shot for ‘cowardice’ (desertion - the very dichotomy of the concept of ‘heroism’), and they had to fight well, or else risk a nasty death for themselves, or for one of their brethren. If they lived through it, they were often left with life-long mental scars, which made bitter any reference to heroism. Many of these veterans do not wish to be called heroes, many of them struggle enough already with returning to civilian life, and many truly hold in contempt the risks they had to take, the brothers they lost and the pain it caused.

What of the women? Not a single woman who fought (though, overall, not literally) during the Great War has been dubbed either a hero or a heroine. However, they took over the factories that made the machines the soldiers used, they wiped the brows of the wounded behind the battlefield, made clean the ‘hospital beds’ to prevent infection, and soothed all the soldiers who were crying out ‘Orderly!’ and receiving no response. When the men returned home, the women were laid off from their work, and given little thanks. They went back to their households, to take care of children they’d been taking care of, on their own, for years as well as filling in the men’s shoes. Many were left without their husbands, their brothers, their fathers, their friends, after years of writing letter after letter, But now I’ve said goodbye to Gapouring devotion and hope into lahad, every word. Yes, they too deserved And am no more the knight of the title of ‘heroes’, but, even if I dreams and show: For lust and senseless hatred make could, I wouldn’t give it to them. Now that the word has been sullied me glad, And my killed friends are with me and their memories trodden down beneath the weight of 20th century where I go. progress, ‘hero’ no longer serves to Siegfried Sassoon, The Poet as express the enormous selflessness Hero, 1916 they demonstrated in that period. The modern usage of the word is 29


or maybe it would, given the modern conception of the term. In which case, virtually anyone with a moderate sense of empathy would be able to achieve the title. So save it for special occasions, for masculine superheroes, for knights in shining armour who fight with ‘valour’ and ‘honour’, for use in irony or in reference to the protagonist of a novel - don’t use it to devalue the true bravery and sheer selflessness of real people.

itself a proof of its current banality. Enrique Iglesias sang “I can be your hero baby/ I can kiss away the pain”, but rather than expressing anything like a heartfelt promise to a lover, for anyone who knows anything of the development and transformation of that word, it’s easy to see that the lyrics are crass, insensitive and illogical even from a figurative point of view. Whatever pain anyone is feeling, cuddles and kisses won’t make you a hero, even if it does help…

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A Word on DC and Marvel Words by: Caitlin Chapman When comparing the popular comic brands DC and Marvel, a predominant difference between them is that DC characters are arguably far more idealistic and almost mythical in the sense that the characters have god-like powers: Superman is a powerful Kryptonian; Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus; Aquaman has the power of the ocean. However, Marvel juxtaposes DC with more ‘realistic’ and human super-powers, able to be explained with science: all the X-Men are mutants; the Hulk is the way he is due to exposure to gamma rays; Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider; Iron Man has no special powers other than being smart enough to build his own suits and arc reactor.

and Uncle, where his Uncle was subsequently murdered following Parker’s discovery of his powers, ultimately leading him to follow his Uncle’s advice (“With great power comes great responsibility”) and create ‘Spider-Man.’

Nevertheless, I would argue it is DC that possesses the darker story lines between the two, often incorporating themes such as brutal murder and psychopathic tendencies. This is visible in ‘Man of Steel’, where Superman was forced to break General Zod’s neck, and in ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’, where the entire plot focuses on Batman scheming to murder Superman. The popular trilogy ‘Dark Knight’ also portrays the same dark Both franchises have created themes with the Joker presented their fair share of heart-breaking as sadistic as possible, allowing backstories for their characters. viewers to truly see the underlying For example, Tony Stark’s father evil nature at his very core. was an alcoholic and verbally and emotionally abusive, and Peter While it is easy to see why some Parker’s parents died at a young age, cannot effortlessly differentiate forcing him to live with his Aunt DC characters from Marvel ones, 31


what is clear is that they do appear to create their superheroes in dissimilar manners. DC’s vision of the concept of ‘heroes’ arguably resides in fantasy worlds of the supernatural and unexplained, while Marvel views the notion of ‘heroes’ as human individuals that have been impacted by some exterior force making them ‘special’. It is not out of the realms of possibility that these exterior forces, i.e. radioactive spiders

and gamma rays, are extended metaphors for large or meaningful events in a person’s life that ultimately lead them to a life of helping others and contributing to society in a humble and heroic way. From my perspective as a comic fan, DC is more of a fictional world, whereas Marvel seems to be, as Stan Lee once put it, ‘a reflection of the world right outside our window.’

Illustrations by Lucy Hunter @lucyhunterillustration

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Summary of Our Heroes...

Words By: Isabelle Kennedy Everyone has a hero. Someone that your hero is someone a little closer they look up, someone they admire, to home, then it can be incredibly someone that inspires them. I difficult to recognise their flaws. would even go as far as to say that All of this is to say, that idealising to have heroes is a part of human someone as a hero is perfectly nature. 500 years ago, the heroes of natural, it is part of a very human the everyday man or women might attempt to strive to be better, or have been a religious figure, today to combat the issues we might they range from political activists see in the world today with hope. to music icons to close family members. Some of my personal That doesn’t mean that heroes heroes include Michelle Obama shouldn’t be criticised or questioned. and Emmeline Pankhurst, but also When someone is idealised as a my parents and my grandmother. hero, especially in popular culture, We idolise constantly, elevating their flaws and problems tend to those that we admire to dizzying be forgotten. We speak of popular heights in our minds, wondering leaders in glorified terms – figures what it might be like to talk to like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, them, or ask them for advice. And if Martin Luther King and even

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Barack Obama loom large as heroes in our minds. Rightly so, all of the above examples campaigned on issues of huge political importance, established lasting traditions and promoted peace. The dictionary definition picks out these qualities almost word for word, citing a hero as someone who “is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Undoubtedly, these figures, and countless others who have inspired either one person or millions, deserve to be praised and remembered.

Outside of politics, people often idolise music icons from Freddie Mercury to Amy Winehouse, despite the common knowledge of drug and alcohol abuse that has impacted many music and film stars. This is not to say that we should stop admiring those mentioned above. Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent direct action allowed Indian liberation from British rule; the suffragette’s cause was undoubtedly justified, and gave women the vote; film and music stars such as Mercury and Winehouse have given voice to a plethora of human emotion and raised awareness of hugely important issues from AIDs to substance abuse and mental illness. Evidently, those mentioned above and many others who are often said to be heroes have more than enough reason to be remembered and admired.

The issue comes when someone is deified, made untouchable by their image of popular heroism. People often seem to be personally offended when it is suggested that their heroes may not have been perfect. At the end of last year, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was removed from the University of Ghana on the grounds that it was offensive to Ghanaians, due to Gandhi’s well documented views on Africans. Potentially a product of his time and culture, Gandhi nevertheless deliberately set the struggle of Indian populations in Africa apart from those of Africans on the basis of race. The suffragettes are often made heroines in popular imagination, despite destruction of property and civil disobedience.

To have heroes is a natural part of being human. We love to admire, hope, and aspire. What we must ensure, however, is that those who we deem to be ‘heroes’ remain human in our head. When we open our minds to see the flaws as well as the attributes of those we admire, we can learn far more, and gain a far better understanding of how we view heroism, than we would otherwise. 34


Love You Zac, But I Choose the Spiritual Guru

Words by: Alex Bartholomew

The word ‘hero’ can evoke a multitude of images. Maybe you think of superheroes, or that person who you want to sweep you off your feet (Zac Efron, I’m waiting), or maybe a family member who has supported you when you most needed them. Although Zac and my parents are pretty high up on the hero list, for the sake of this article I want to talk about another type of hero. I want to spare a moment for those special people who are authentic, who aren’t afraid to say what they believe in, nor are they afraid to explain why. They don’t mind other people having a different point of view, will happily accept diversity of opinion, and welcome it as a demonstration of the freedom of speech we so desperately need to hold on to and care for.

corner of the world seems to be divided to the point of hatred, it is both heroic and necessary to listen to each other and accept opinions as opinions, and not as identities.

If you found out someone had voted Brexit, would you dislike them? “They’re probably racist and right wing”, is that what you’d think? Is that fair? Trump in the US and Maduro in Venezuela are equally divisive examples. No matter what your opinion is of any of these political images, an opinion is an opinion, it is not an identity and it does not define you. This is a two-way street; if someone X uses an opinion to define themselves, then they have created an identityshaped mask to build their ego and shield themselves from the world. Equally, if someone Y defines that person X by their At a time like this when each opinion, someone Y is shielding 35


themselves from opinions that threaten their own identity. Either way, your ego is taking control, encouraging hatred, and reducing you to an opinion.

Brand. As I was growing up, I thought of Russell Brand as an attention-seeking brat with such little talent that he was forced to revert to sex as his main source of inspiration. But things have changed, for both me and Russell. I now see his previous actions as the result of an addiction, and I am inspired by his transformation into a ‘spiritual guru’, impressed by his intelligence, and humbled by his intelligent, poetic and emotion-raising discourse. He is a hero in my eyes because of the challenges he has overcome, his resilience, and his positive attitude towards understanding differing opinions (listen to podcast #058 with Candace Owen if you want to hear some debate).

In films, heroes are fearless and calm amidst the chaos of battle. That is exactly how my heroes would act in the face of an opposing opinion; calmly, ego-less, and therefore fearless. We, the audience, usually have an emotional connection to the film heroes and urge them to do well, while wishing defeat on the ‘baddies’. This is where my heroes differ from those in the films. My heroes aim for a heroic lack of defeat. They understand that, no matter how different our opinions are, we are all humans with whom we can connect, and If you acknowledge that arrogance, they want the best for everyone. ignorance and fear are the only traits you are proving when you These heroes seem pretty refuse to accept and understand unrealistic, and I’ll be the first a fellow human’s point of view, to admit they’re rare – the you’re on the right track to being enlightened population of the a hero in my eyes. And I’m sorry world is pretty limited - however, Zac, but I think I’ll choose an egomore and more people are free hero to sweep me off my feet, heroically aiming for something although your performance in near enlightenment. Surprisingly, High School Musical 2 was stellar. one of these people is Russell 36


Anie Hu

Words by: Tim Drew

Anie Hu, my hero, is a 23 year old final year History student at the University of York. At 17, she was just a regular teenager wanting to go out with friends, party and enjoy life. She told me how the headache hit her like a brick wall, the inability to stay awake for long periods of time, to socialise or focus at college. ‘I couldn’t even walk to Sixth Form, I got to my neighbours house and I just had to stop I couldn’t breath, my legs and arms just felt so heavy’.

lights hurriedly taking her to hospital. Being in a dark closed off windowless room she was told the diagnosis that no one should ever have to hear, the three words “You have cancer”. A year and a half later, she told me about her trials with treatments for leukaemia, her struggle with making and losing friends to cancer and her struggle to find hope in a dark situation. The treatment was not working, chemo was not working, the only option was a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. 3 months turned to 6 months that turned to 9 months without a suitable match found. Doctors usually recommend a 90% match, yet the only match available was a 50% match from her father. She was faced with the option of taking a 50% chance of success, or having 8-9 months to live. No 18 year old should ever have to face their own mortality with that kind of decision, one that she made on 15th of June.

She described to me the fear of having to have blood tests and the scenes in the early hours of the next morning as she was greeted at the door by a doctor in a car with green flashing

The transplant was a success, and this in itself is explanation enough as to why she is a hero, not just to me but to anyone struggling with cancer or any serious illness. However, for me, what makes her even more exceptional is what she has achieved after the transplant. 37


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She spent a year long Erasmus study placement in Paris, enjoying the best year of her life, travelling around the world, including a memorable trip to Japan. She excels at university, is absolutely loved by everyone and is always there for anyone who needs her.

org. “I just want to open people’s eyes to see that it is possible to help those in need”.

“If you’re over 18 and under 30 then there is nothing stopping you from signing up and getting a free kit from Anthony Nolan. Maybe you will get the chance to give a 7 year old a second chance at life”.

Her work with the charity Anthony Nolan exemplifies her loving nature. Anthony Nolan are a charity, devoted to saving the lives of people with blood cancer. It is as easy as taking a swab of saliva and sending it to them and you never know, you could be selected as someone who could save someone’s life. Anie regularly gives speeches at conferences and schools to raise awareness for this amazing cause, which you can find more out about at www.anthonynolan.

She is a hero to me, and an example to all. The work she does saves lives and I hope her story gives anyone struggling with illness that there is hope that you can have a happy future, filled with Parisian adventures or Uni adventures with loving friends.

Tim Drew Photography @timdrewportraits @timdrew_

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Our Creative Writing Competition Earlier in the term, The Yorker hosted a creative writing competition, where we asked people to explore the theme of ‘heroes’. We welcomed all aubmissions with the brief of...

“Write 700-1000 words from the perspective of a heroic individual, exploring the deeper feelings and emotions of responsibility, pressure and perhaps guilt that comes with being perceived as a ‘hero’. ” Submissions were assessed by professionals from the English and Related Literature department at the University of York, and we are now pleased to present the winner of the competition, along with 2nd and 3rd place.

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First Place: Adam Nellis

“A hero is ready to sacrifice his life for the greater good.” That is what I was taught in boot camp, and that is what I believe still, even after everything that has happened. They called me a hero, once, and that is why I am standing before you today. I was in Iraq, Helmand province. It was late at night and we were walking through town back to the base, after spending a day repairing roads. Some of those roads took a hell of a battering, the amount of ordnance we dropped on them. I was chatting with one of my friends when I spotted him in the alleyway. Then everything seemed to happen at once. He already had his gun trained on us, so I knew instinctively that he would open fire before we could ready our weapons. I rushed towards him, not really thinking in the moment, just seeing and acting. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. The feeling of his wrist tendons straining and snapping as I twisted the gun from his hand. The feeling of my fists pounding his soft face. The feeling of blood running thickly over my knuckles. I woke up in hospital the next day. They told me that I had sustained a gunshot wound to my shoulder, and that I had three broken finger bones. They did not tell me whether the man from the alleyway survived. They gave me a medal. Called me a hero. Told everyone that my quick thinking and decisive action had saved the lives of four men that night. I felt like shit that day. Felt like shit for the whole war, truth be told. They told us we did a great thing out there, but I’m not sure. We left that place a real mess. I don’t know if what we did was right. To that man in the alleyway I wasn’t a hero. I was a villain. From his perspective he was trying to defend his home, his way of life, his beliefs. 42


I am not expecting you to treat me any differently because I used to be a soldier, because I was given a medal. I am not telling you these things to garner sympathy. I am only trying to help you understand my state of mind on the night in question. To give you some form of explanation, rather than excuse. I was in England, Nottingham city centre. It was late at night and we were walking through town back to the hotel after spending a night drinking, although I hadn’t had many. I was chatting with one of my friends when I spotted him in the alleyway. Then everything seemed to happen at once. He already had his hand twisted through her hair, pulling her neck back, so I knew instinctively that he would harm her unless I did something. I rushed towards him, not really thinking in the moment, just seeing and acting. I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. The feeling of his wrist tendons straining and snapping as I twisted his hand free from her hair. The feeling of my fists pounding his soft face. The feeling of blood running thickly over my knuckles. I woke up in hospital the next day. They told me that the woman from the alleyway sustained minor internal bruising when she fell, and that I had three broken finger bones. They told me that the man from the alleyway did not survive, that he never had any chance of surviving, that I had left his face a disgusting, unrecognisable, bloody pulp. They arrested me. Called me a psycho. Told everyone that my army training, combined with my innate propensity for violence, made me a danger to society and had resulted in the death of a man that night. “A hero is ready to sacrifice his life for the greater good.� That is what I was taught in boot camp, and that is what I believe still, even after everything that has happened. They told me I did a terrible thing in that alleyway, but I am not sure. I think that what I did was right, but this is not for me to decide. As I stand here before you now, I am ready to sacrifice my life for the greater good. Your honour, members of the jury: of what I am accused, I am guilty. And I am prepared to sacrifice myself by accepting your sentence. 43


Second Place: Saffy Cook Five Minutes “Ma’am, new intel from 42nd street—” “No record in the system, Ma’am—” “Call from the fire department—” Captain held up a hand, and the room fell silent. “Good work, everyone. I want full reports with an urgency rating on my desk in five minutes.” A chorus of yes ma’am followed her as she touched the sensor by the door. Her back was ramrod straight as it shut behind her, but as soon as it locked, she slumped, as though the hiss of the door sealing had let all the air out of her. She moved silently to the mirror, and as her reflection came into view, it changed. Her tight brown ponytail shimmered, loosened, and shifted into long black waves. Green eyes flashed, and were icy, sparkling blue. Colour drained from her skin, leaving it waxy and stretched over cheekbones that hadn’t been that high seconds ago. The muscles under her suddenly loose jumpsuit softened, and a thinner, taller, less sculpted woman looked out from the mirror. The woman sighed and moved over to a cabinet, reaching for a bottle with a pale hand and raising it to her lips. Her hands were almost skeletal, she thought numbly, turning her free one around in front of her face, before slowly tracing the thin lips and nose that had stopped feeling like hers a long time ago. How long had it been, she wondered idly, moving to the bathroom to wash, since Captain had died? Three—no, four—four years. Well. She chokes. The world is grey and orange and piercingly loud. She’s cracking under the heat, like clay in a kiln when there are air bubbles left in it. It’s then she sees it; the bright jumpsuit—and if she concentrates, the tight, preppy ponytail—and the flash of green. She took a deep breath. Wetted a flannel and wiped away mascara 44


smudges and memories. Captain hadn’t hesitated. It had been instinctual, for her, to grab the young woman—carefully, mindful of the blood darkening her dark hair— and pull her out of harm’s way, with no thoughts of self-preservation. Those instincts were what made her a hero, she reflected, as she drew the flannel across the back of her neck. They were also what made her vulnerable. She blinks, and the world shifts disconcertingly fast, from fire and smothering smoke to sunlight, and grass, and breathable air. “It’s ok,” a familiar voice says calmly. Her vision focuses, and she sees a tanned face with green eyes and a pink smile hovering above her. “You’re safe now.” How many times has she seen that face on TV? Heard that voice on the radio? The woman with blood in her hair remembers a child, sitting on a concrete floor under a leaking roof, listening to a crackly radio as a voice says make those dreams come true and she smiles. Absent-mindedly twisting a curl around her finger, she turned to a poster on the wall. It was Captain, hands on her hips and smile on her face in her trademark pose. Bold letters under her feet spelled out the phrase that had made her famous: We’ve dreamed of heroes for so long. It’s time for those of us with powers to make those dreams come true. “Why don’t you get rid of that thing?” a voice asked behind her, and she turned to see Ghost leaning against the other wall, arms crossed, watching from under the strands of bleached hair falling across his face. She rolled her eyes, like she always did. “I hope no one saw you walking through the wall. The last thing I need is an unregistered power scandal.” He ignored her, like he always did. She sighed. “Because sometimes I think that’s the most important thing Captain did. She made dreams come true.” Ghost snorted. “Not for everyone. I doubt she even knew our side of town existed.” “It feels pointless to argue about what she did or didn’t know, now,” she replied. “She’s dead.” 45


Ghost tilted his head, in the way he had since they were very small, running barefoot and shrieking with laughter when they stepped in puddles, scouting for pickpocketing targets. A low tap at the door pulled her back into the present. “Ma’am? Theo is here, he says it’s about you being the face of the Clean Water Northside project.” “I’ll be right with him after I check the urgent reports!” she called back. This time, Ghost rolled his eyes. He was used to it, the constant cycle of him arriving, and her leaving, the time between the two never more than a few minutes snatched between reports and missions and photoshoots. He still huffed, and picked up the newspaper she’d left on top of the bookshelf. Scanning it, he frowned, and checked the date. Six months ago…? Why? He was about to ask when a subtitle, tucked quietly under the tacky headline, caught his eye. REPORTS SHOW DRASTICALLY INCREASED HERO PRESENCE IN UNDERFUNDED AREAS IN THE LAST THREE YEARS. The expression that spread across Ghost’s face was almost a smile. “Ellen Richelieu’s dead,” he murmured. “But Captain isn’t.” Captain held out a hand. The woman on the floor took it, and was pulled up in one swift motion. Her hand moved in a motion just as swift. Captain gasped, just once, very quietly. Her eyes widened, and for a single moment, the woman who had been holding a knife felt like she was drowning in green. Her hand moved to her side, and there was blood on her fingertips. Ellen Richelieu sank slowly to her knees, her eyes closing, as her murderer touched her fingers to her lips—lips which filled out, as muscles hardened under her skin, her cheekbones lowered, her nose widened, her eyes flashed green, and her hair tightened into a brown ponytail. Captain glances in the mirror again, and finding no flaws, makes her way to the door. Her five-minute break is over.

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Third Place: Logan Barker Hero What are these hands but a sham? I look down, and can imagine them crumbling before me. The skin would be lashed away- by flames, ice, whatever- leaving behind a wasteland of bursting veins and breaking bones. It’s the prospect that haunts me while I lie here, cut off from the world. Sometimes I wish that it would happen. Anything to feel human. They don’t warn you about this. In the panels that show seemingly invincible beings: saving a city, protecting a child, acting as a shield from the evils of the world. Their faces seemed so full of promise back then; I would flick endlessly, fascinated by the power. The dreams in my eyes were predicting a future. And now, in a cruel twist of fate, I’m left with the other side of the coin, the one that was only shown to me after I too became ‘invincible’. Maybe these feelings come from selfishness, or a lack of love. No. More likely the opposite. We heroes adore people. Over time they become our children, lost lambs that force the role of shepherd upon us. We become little more than idols for them look up to in wonder. The duty is a pride, and then a source of doubt, and finally a curse. I suppose that you can tell which stage I’m at. Here, in this prison of a bed, when I should most definitely be outside. I was foolish to think that we could hold on to our interior worlds. I forgot that I am theirs now; a pet, subject to command. The cooing, obsequious voices circle my mind, and there’s no way to stop them. That is one force that can’t be quenched. Trauma is a word that gets thrown around. It’s a human word, I think. Born from experiences that only the steadiest of hearts can go through. They carry those memories with them, hulking them like a backpack. But why should we be denied the same right? They see us as above emotion, but we can feel too… too much. From this pedestal stretches a long road of failures, missed opportunities, lost faces. The road loops back, forming 47


a kind of pressure loop that mortal souls can’t even comprehend. They just watch on, ineffectual as always. I don’t mean to paint myself as superior. Perhaps the years of running away from myself are finally showing effect. It’s no good getting caught up. Climb down. The people need you. He needed you. A young man, maybe mid-30s, dressed in a simple shirt and tie. His block of flats had caught on fire, and as usual I was called to action. The entire building was in flames when I arrived (Nature was laughing in my face, the ultimate mockery). It took a little while to get inside. Through the black smoke now, pawing it away, through another door. Two figures: one lying unconscious on the floor, the other running around in a panic, coughing to high Heaven. The runner points to his friend: “Get him out, he’s unconscious!”. I want to protest- it’s safer to care for the people that are still standing, they still have a chance. No time through the splutters. A standard fireman’s lift, and we’re heading out of the door again. Look back. He’s leaning on the sofa now, barely any strength. Shouting out now, to him, to any other helpers that might intervene. No answer. A few seconds pass, four, five, I can’t wait anymore, I can’t, heading out, through the smoke, a thud. He was named among the dead on the news. I watched it from my palace of solitude. I didn’t leave it for the rest of the day, until another signal forced me out. My family won’t speak to me anymore. The phone stopped ringing around a year ago; shortly after I got a cheery text from my brother, telling me that ‘we didn’t want to worry you’, and that ‘you have more important things on your mind’. There is only dryness where that place should be. And though they didn’t mean it, the abandonment is another trauma. I sink back into my pillow. Time for another restless sleep, before the alarm rings out, and I descend, as always, to save the day. Maybe the Batman act this time, jumping out from the shadows, a sullen vigilante. Or the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman, with a smile and youthful spirit. Or J Edgar Hoover, bringing all of our country’s supposed villainy to justice. I try to convince myself that these characters are real. It’s all that I have left. There is no pressure anymore. This is my 9-5, forever. But still it knocks, it knocks… To be needed, to be wanted. Once you’ve led a life like mine, the difference becomes crystal clear. 48


Words By: Clarke Travis

The Effectiveness of a Heroic Narrative in Gaming effective way of creating an immersive storyline that will, ultimately, result in more play-time. It is the sense of justice within us that leads to that instant connection with these titles.

Whether its local entrepreneur Bruce Wayne donning a mask and fighting crime in Gotham or plus-size plumber Mario chasing down Princess Peach through a series of side navigated obstacles; heroism and games undoubtedly go hand in hand. It is essential when discussing the effect of heroes in gaming to explain what it is about bravery and courage that appeals so much to gamers and realise how important the story of a game is to its playability in a hero-based game, to get a broad understanding of the world of gaming itself.

Playing a fun game with an engaging storyline allows the user to believe that should they ever be in this kind of predicament, this is how they would act. They think that if Bowser captured their beloved Princess, they would search through the many different pixels that Mario does to find her. And it is this connection between reality and fantasy which gamers can often find so engaging; that it’s difficult to put down the controller until the things you value are safe.

Heroes in gaming have always been a crucial way to present a game’s narrative. The protagonist is often a character who has a cause; a reason to get out of bed in the morning to help fight whatever obstacle may come their way. In Super Mario Bros you play as Mario, and your objective is to save the Princess and in Spiderman and Arkham Knight you play as local vigilantes who help fight evil in their beloved cities. Using this method of story is a very

Gamers sometimes overlook the relationship between play and story but, especially in a hero/superhero focused game, the story is essential for play to exist. Developers spend thousands of hours, and pounds, creating a functioning game that they believe to not only be of an interesting story but with exceptional graphical 49


elements, unique playability and overall immersive experience. But for the user to play for a duration long enough to encounter, and more importantly enjoy those features, they need to be hooked into the game.

characters that weren’t in the movie, you can live life through the eyes of the figure that you perhaps idolise. Games that lack that connectivity with the audience tend to score well but perhaps not remain in the hearts of gamers. In Spiderman, the player gets to act out most teenagers’ fantasy of being the person in school who is the same as they always were; but secretly they are this source of power and influence on so many people’s lives. This sense of ego can be the drive for why games can be so crucial to people’s lives; a gamer would most likely not be able to live the double life like Peter Parker does in the films but when they get home from school they can, for a brief moment, live that life.

Should a player be playing a game that lacks story or the potential for the user to act out fantasies where they are the saviour with a just cause; no level of graphics or fun playing mechanics will save a game from a lack of replayability. A similar issue is apparent in the film industry; as any amount of incredible acting cannot save a weak plotline, scene direction or graphical distractions. The movie industry and the gaming industry have a unique one-way relationship which can be very interesting. Very rarely can a video game become an incredibly good movie, yet a good film can undoubtedly become a popular video game. To an extent, it is distinct why. Why would you watch 120 minutes of an Assassin’s Creed or a Far Cry movie when you could have a far more immersive and imaginative experience in the comfort of your own home? The other side of that relationship tends to be more successful for this very reason. With a movie coming initially and offering an engaging narrative and brilliant writing, graphics, and direction; it gives the feeling of playing as the protagonist in a game much more satisfaction. You can explore areas not seen in the game; you can meet new

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In the Arkham series, the games regularly score incredibly high with websites such as Metacritic, some breaching the 90% grade; but do these games capture the audience quite as much? I believe not. The story arch of Batman or Bruce Wayne is a wellknown one. His parents were murdered as he was a child, he inherited a lot of capital due to their deaths, became a playboy philanthropist and then used his money to start dressing like a bat and smack the living daylights out of the many criminals that corrupt his town. This story arch makes for fantastic cinema, but perhaps not for the most excellent game in the world. I am unsure about the statistics on how many gamers are orphaned millionaire


playboys that are terrified of bats, but I feel like Spiderman may win the hearts of more players on that one as he plays the role of the stereotypical everyday hero rather than what is effectively an anti-villain with Batman.

of a cult standing in the gaming community, and Batman games never quite seemed to hook the audience quite as hard. The Batman games to date have always had a very interesting aesthetic and driving the Batmobile for the first time in any of them is still a thrill, but perhaps the lack of relatability to the out of costume protagonist is what lets it down.

While the same premise of a double life does apply, living in total fantasy is not a luxury that most can obtain; and a sense of possibility or realism may be necessary for complete engrossing of the audience. It is potentially more likely to be bitten by a spider and develop powers in the minds of the audience than it is to change your entire back story to become Batman when you step into the fantasy of gaming, and that’s purely down to the narrative of those characters. You can remain precisely who you are when you play as Spiderman; you can fantasise that you were bitten and act like yourself.

To put it just, heroism is not sufficient on its own in gaming but using a hero as a vessel for a fantastic story can be. An excellent heroic game is just as breath-taking as an excellent heroic motion picture, or at least it should be. It should make you gasp during crucial points of the journey; it should make the adrenaline course through your veins during an epic battle and, perhaps most importantly, it should make you never want to take your eyes off the screen.

This level of relatability is perhaps why the Spiderman games have more

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Behind The Eyes Words By: E. S. K. Lawrence This was written for those who suffer in silence, the colleague at work who always seems happy, the friend that never says no, the stranger that bumped into you because they weren’t looking. You can never know what’s going on in their world, what’s hidden behind their eyes, what’s beyond what you see and what demons they may be facing. Be kind, be nice… A hint of a smile can make a whole lot of difference. This is for those who battle daily, in silence, in secret, in the shadow, the demons of mental health. We are today’s heroes, and no more will we be ignored. Behold the face that happily smiles And all and every envy those eyes That shine and sparkle and seem so content Oh if only they knew - what’s really meant By that smile drawn on that face The courage it takes The strength to pursue If only they knew If only they’d see Behind the eyes what lies beneath Behind the mask that pins that smile Beyond tricks that aim to beguile The naked truth Shame, embarrassment, ruth Who wants to see A scene so obscene And how could they stand The hammering hand That restlessly hammers And fire it spatters So at distance they stay While in silence we pray Heroes of Silent Demons In the dark, when no one’s around One night it shall crawl Breaking the silence But making no sound Scarring and howling The tender heart it will claw

The battle was lost If it ever existed I learnt to move on Even though it persisted I still feel it inside Sometimes it’s asleep And the sun will rise I might even believe In time, when I’m lost Afloat in the sea The demon will wake And once more My mind at stake But then I remember What it means to endure What it feels to be standing On an earth formed of feather What you see in the darkness What you hear in the silence What you lose in a moment What you gain in a lifetime The eyes of the faces Of the people that loved you And the self that you don’t And we stand where we see The past, the present, the future, A circle it is, and we are free For the prison was us And the demon within We choose now to throw away the key We fought for so long And never conceived How the heroes can bleed But keep moving on Is what makes us win

I was young, My thought still weak To its beat I sung And in my soul I let it in I welcomed the demon I leapt to its light I needed a friend My ‘friends’ to fight off 52


The Boy is Back in Town

Words By: Eleanor Jefferys

I struggled with what or who I would consider to be a ‘hero’ when asked to write a piece. Nothing felt genuine. By my own definition, ‘hero’ means someone who saves people, against all odds. In an unexpected turn of events, the first person who stood proud to me by this definition is Rockstar and my hero, Phillip Parris ‘Phil’ Lynott. Thin Lizzy, Phil’s longest and mostloved musical creation, may be known to many as Ireland’s leading rock band for a time, with hits Boys are Back in Town and their rendition of Whiskey in a Jar both topping the UK charts in the 1970s. I think it is fair to say, however, that many people do not know of their frontman and bass player, Phil Lynott and the influence he had on rock, Irish identity and the breaking of racial barriers. Born to a single-mother in Birmingham and raised in staunchly white and conservative 1950s Ireland, Phil and his mother, his life-long best friend and biggest fan, Philomena faced vile abuse. Being a mixed-raced child born out of wedlock, Phil’s grandmother, by whom he was raised for a large portion of his childhood in Dublin, denied her familial connections to Phil; instead claiming that she was caring for him whilst his parents were

abroad. It seems hard to believe now, but I can imagine that this lie was necessary at the time to minimalise the abuse Phil would receive growing up in a place which did not celebrate diversity. Nonetheless, as a result of this rejection and denial of part of his ethnic identity, I suspect that Phil tried even harder to become accepted by the contemporary societal standards. This fuelled his love of Irish arts, identity and nationalism; although the latter was never fully expressed except for nods towards Irish liberation in his music; the most notable, for me, being the 1976 hit, ‘Emerald.’ Phil’s immense pride in his Irish heritage is important. In a time of huge animosity towards Ireland in the British media, for example the IRA, being proud of one’s Irish heritage was dangerous. Being proud of my own Semitic heritage, seemingly an increasing controversial and hated topic, I identify strongly with Phil’s unwillingness to deny who he is in the face of hate and judgement. I find solace in knowing that Phil fought for his right to be proud of his identity. Phil’s music changed the way many regard the Irish, the portrayal of 53


whom has changed from being murderers, to jovial drinkers. Both historically and culturally, they have been type-casted and under the cosh of their British Brothers. Overtime, we have given credence to Irish national figures, for example, including W.B. Yates on school curriculums. Whilst we applaud Irish music, from both the Republic and Northern Ireland, we forget the message it so often sends about post-colonial racism, genocide, etc. Cheery subject, I know, but it the struggle of the Irish told through music is so often overlooked. His music told stories of Irish mysticism and folk lore, the most famous of which is Thin Lizzy’s rendition of traditional Irish song ‘Whiskey in a Jar.’ His lyrics, coupled with duelling guitars and rich melodies, romanticised traditional Ireland. Throughout his life, Phil diversified his musical scope; connecting with his African roots and experimenting with reggae and popstyled music. His artistic exploration was most active in his later years, when he became embroiled in the Rockstar lifestyle and plagued by internal strife. Phil’s life was one of extremes and whilst we celebrate his glory, we must remember his demise. His avaricious appetite for life caused him to make some poor decisions. As a man who speaks so truthfully and purely of love, I was surprised and disappointed to discover that he was a serial adulterer, which friends and band members say was due to the pressures of

expectation for Phil to be the ultimate Rockstar. The expectations of Phil to fulfil the roguish image of Rockstars at the time proved too much for Phil to handle without the numbness of substance abuse. Trapped in a Rockstar persona of his own making, Phil stumbled towards escalating drug use. Phil prophesised his demise in several songs, the most poignant for me being ‘Got to Give It Up’ in which he describes his battle with ‘stuff ’ and ‘junk,’ how ‘in the end he lost his, bottle drinking alcohol.’ Sadly, Phil imagined a redemption and recovery in this song that never happened, promising his ‘mama’ that he is ‘coming home.’ Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Phil Lynott died of hyperthermia, aged 36. Despite his mistakes, this is not how I think of Phil Lynott, nor is it how anyone should. The music outlives the myth of his Rockstar persona, and when those stories pass, we will be left with the legendary music. Although he may have failed in some aspects of life: marriage, health, and sanity, towards the end, Phil Lynott’s musical success is a reminder to me that in the face of internal struggles and external prejudice, dreams can be fulfilled, and legends can be created. For me, Phil’s attitude towards his identity and tenacity to reach his goal is summarised in one of Thin Lizzy’s earliest songs ‘Black Boys on the Corner’, “I’m a little black boy, recognize my face.” 54


Has the Idea of a ‘Hero’ in Politics Gone the Way of the Silent Film?

Words By: Michael Maitland-Jones

A

film taking up a lot of the headlines at the moment is the Oscar nominated film, Vice. Broadly speaking, it’s a biopic of the notorious former Vice-President Dick Cheney, and documents his rise to power through manipulation of the muchridiculed president George W. Bush.

Alex-Jones Show), it is worth looking into whether the political figures at the heart of the establishment, including the president, have ever garnered favourable portrayals in filmmaking. Has any presidential figure (conservative or liberal) been given the mantle of ‘hero’ by Hollywood?

The film has naturally rallied together the usual band of alt-right radio hosts and/or dejected former Star Wars fans in a mob of fury towards the film, describing it as yet another example of the alleged left-wing bias in Hollywood. Whilst the debate surrounding Vice is likely to be lost amidst the never-ending internet void of head-scratching cultural criticism (currently encompassing everything from creepy takedowns of Disney’s Star Wars to fringy left-overs from The

The one time golden-boy of the presidency in the eyes of Hollywood would seem to have been John F. Kennedy. Filmmakers such as Oliver Stone in his semi-biopic JFK painted him as an embodiment of what every president should aspire to: a man whose potential was tragically cut short. This rose-tinted image reached almost laughable proportions with the film released in 2000 about the Cuban missile crisis Thirteen Days. This film presented the president

Sam Rockwell as George Bush in Vice. © Annapurna Pictures. 55


as a stoic family-man beset by the incompetence of others; an image that has waned somewhat in recent years.

bold civil rights activism of Martin Luther King Jr. in 2014’s Selma. Even complimentary political biopics such as 2018’s critically lauded Darkest Hour presented Churchill as being a PM who was an outsider in his own cabinet, and embellished with enough quirks to be comfortably distanced from any kind of conventional ‘politician’ archetype.

Kennedy would seem to be the exception however, and apart from Spielberg’s Lincoln the job of Hollywood these days would seem to be to peel back the layers of pomp and artifice surrounding the president and their cronies. Armando Ianucci’s brilliant send-up of the Iraq war In the Loop pointed the finger at the administrations of the UK and US governments as being populated by liars and spin doctors; the last thing on their mind would seem to be serving the populace. Stanley Kubrick took this idea a step further with the ground-breaking Cold-War satire Doctor Strangelove; a film where the president and his cabinet quite literally leave the global population to the fate of nuclear annihilation.

Vice is only the tip of the iceberg as far as unfavourable portrayals of the political establishment goes and it is not a specific example of the so called ‘Liberal Hollywood’ (a biopic of the disgraced Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart is on its way for anyone concerned about left-right balance). In an age of a media bashing, twitter-tantrumming president and a disillusioned electorate, the true heroes in the media’s modern view of politics are those bold enough to face up to the allegedly incompetent and corrupt figures of power. In the cinema of 1991, a ‘hero’ image could be applied to JFK. In the cinema of 2019 it could just as easily be applied to Lee Harvey Oswald.

In regard to honouring ‘heroes’, modern Hollywood seems to have shifted its gaze as far away from the political class as possible; choosing to focus on those claimed to be brave enough to take on the establishment from the plucky leakers of the Pentagon- Papers in Spielberg’s recent The Post to the George C. Scott in Dr Strangelove (1964). © CriterionFilms. 56


Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire, which began in 2017, is a free service for past members of the Armed Forces over the age of 65 living in North Yorkshire. They’re a partnership of 15 non-service charities that work to support veterans across the North Yorkshire region to provide a personal approach to accommodate the needs of each individual. The project is funded by the Aged Veterans Fund by the Chancellor using LIBOR Funds. In a phone call with Ex-Forces Support North Yorkshire, they explained how they enjoy working closely with service charities and listen to when they are struggling to reach an individual because of time, resources or geography. It’s in these instances where their team work with their own partnership to plug this gap and provide support. And the support they offer is wide ranging: from a Volunteer Visitor Service by St Michael’s Hospice in Harrogate to working with the Yorkshire Energy Doctor for help with energy bills, there are a wide array of services that might meet the needs of those past members of the armed forces. Not only do they provide services in the home, but with the help of volunteers and the various organisations involved, they are able to organise regular trips and days out where the past members of the armed forces can come together and socialise. If you’d like to get involved with the charity either as a beneficiary or as a volunteer, or if you would like any advice on a range of consumer issues, give them a call on 01904 704177.

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