Quotes / Historical Hero Upgrade

"My beloved people, I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and the wingspan of an albatross and the left hook of a heavyweight Champ!"
Queen Elizabeth, Hark! A Vagrant

But you know they gonna whitewash me
Make up some corny shit about me chopping cherry trees
It's hard to control a people if their founder's a thug
So they'll teach that I was all prayers, puppies and hugs!
George Washington, Founding Fathers

There are precious few at ease
With moral ambiguities
So we act as though they don't exist...
The Wizard, Wicked

The Founding Fathers weren't benevolent demigods, they were humans who made compromises and mistakes, and building a compromise with slavery into the structure of our government was one of them
Adam Conover, Adam Ruins Everything

In reality, William Wallace was actually a well funded militant separatist with extreme political views who attacked a larger, more organised society using guerilla tactics and no regard for civilian casualties. His biggest attack? Pulled on September 11th! Never forget. Even in the past.
The Cold Mountain guy was real, but there's no record of him abandoning his post for love. There's just a record of him abandoning his post. Twice. And now he's Jude Law.
... by all accounts, Rudy is kind of a prick. Oh, and speaking of pricks, every one of the 300 dudes was both boned by an older man as a child, and boned a child before leaving for battle...
I mean, for God's sake, The Patriot would have been about a guy burning churches, slaughtering unarmed Cherokee and raping his female slaves. That's what the real guy Mel Gibson was playing did. Over here in life, where everything is awful.

"One of the most despicable, ruthless, falsely publicized characters in the American western folklore, Jesse Woodson James, a true bastard. He was so low that his first job was to rob a train with his brother, and the train was a hospital train filled with wounded soldiers. They killed all the wounded soldiers and took the few dollars...That was Jesse James...He was no good. But thanks to many pop-magazine writers, he was celebrated and, over a period of years, he became a hero."
Samuel Fuller, whose film I Shot Jesse James was an attempt at revisionism.

"It doesn't matter. I won't be in the history books anyway, only you. Franklin did this and Franklin did that and Franklin did some other damn thing. Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington, fully grown and on his horse. Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightning rod and the three of them - Franklin, Washington, and the horse - conducted the entire revolution by themselves."
John Adams, 1776note 

Charles George Gordon functioned as example and as symbol. He seemed for many years and for a large section of the British public to have been the best of his race, embodying those traits most dearly admired by Victorian England: bravery, religious humility, honesty, resourcefulness, an innate sense of justice, and a real but manly feeling for the unfortunate. This was how the English nation liked to think of itself...The public needs a constantly fresh supply of heroic figures, and it is only when a national figure is catapulted beyond his time that he survives in the national Valhalla. We could point to people such as Nelson, or perhaps Churchill, for contrast. Nelson lasts in the national mythology because he has been made to embody national qualities of courage and daring connected with the sea which are still admired in the English consciousness. Similarly with Churchill: he is thought to stand for a kind of bulldog determination never to give in, although fighting against overwhelming odds...Gordon shares many of the qualities necessary to the heroic figure, qualities which may be said to be universally admired. He might have succeeded had he not been tainted by the smell of imperialism, a doctrine which is in very bad odor in the twentieth century. It is hard to admire wholeheartedly the man who stood for the imposition of white civilization on non-white peoples; he needs constant apologies and explanations.
Cynthia F. Behrman, The Afterlife of General Gordon

Who can we collect in Horrible Heroes? Blackbeard! Not much of a hero; sort of murderous pirate. Tudor executioner! Very much not a hero from any stretch of the imagination. Genghis Khan! Again, not particularly heroic. Alexander The Great! Yeah? Um, uh... well, very successful, but not somebody you would call a hero. William The Conqueror! Um, again, not many people would heroise him. Random Viking berserker. Right, so a man renowned basically for murdering lots of, uh, people, raping and pillaging and going red in the face while shouting a lot and hitting people with an axe and he's a hero, apparently. Bodecea... Boudica or however they pronounce it this week; well, yeah, she could be seen as actually a heroine. And highwayman. Literally... a very dangerous mugger. Brilliant. So that's your 'heroes', is it? Only one of them can be described as 'heroic', really. And it's a woman, so it would be 'heroine', so well done!
Dr. Stuart Ashen reviewing a Horrible Histories-themed blind bag.note 

"Shouldn't we applaud the Founders' restored popularity? Isn't patriotism a good thing, especially amid our current difficulties? Yes—but like anything else, it can be taken too far. And when it causes us to overvalue those who have preceded us, it does harm...I do point out that the Founders' work was very much unfinished at the time the torch was passed to the next generation, and that tidying up the loose ends took eighty years and one of the most destructive wars in the history of the world before 1914...Americans aren't alone in looking to a golden age, but in our case this inhibits action on important public issues. We marvel that our predecessors, living at a time when the free population of the country didn't exceed the population of greater Chicago today, could have gained independence from Britain and fashioned a republic that has lasted more than two centuries; and we bewail our inability, in a population eighty times as large, to find anyone like them...The Founders got the country off to a good start, but they would have been the first to admit that it was no more than a start...They would have dismissed as ludicrous the notion that theirs was a blessed generation, to which others might never compare...In making giants of the Founders, we make pygmies of ourselves; in making saints of them, we make sinners of ourselves...The point of their revolution was to craft a government based on the will of the people; they would have judged themselves failures if they thought their mechanism required saints to run it."
H. W. Brands, Founders' Chic


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