Monday, December 22, 2014

Trudeau -- Mythic Hero?


Michael den Tandt writes that the political narrative in Canada over the next year will be all about what Justin Trudeau does. That's because -- for better of for worse -- Trudeau has assumed the mantle of the mythic hero:

Trudeau’s popularity could be linked to the very fabric of how human beings perceive political narrative. His brand has been crafted, deliberately it seems to me, to tap into very old archetypes of heroism. These archetypes are everywhere in our culture – in film, literature, myth and politics.

Joseph Campbell called it the mono-myth. It’s also been described as “the hero’s journey.” A young warrior appears, often of secretly noble parentage. He or she is called to adventure, initially refuses the call, but eventually yields to destiny, to take up the mantle and burdens of leadership. George Lucas’s character Luke Skywalker, of course, was built around this meta-story. So were the tales of the Lion King, and numerous other Hollywood fables.

Perhaps den Tandt is going a bit overboard. But he points out that:

Trudeau’s policy deficit has been presented as his greatest problem. It really isn’t. Though the lack of hard platform thus far has caused him some discomfort, the waiting does have one benefit: The Liberals will have the last word. It is safe to assume that, at some point between now and October, Trudeau will unveil a detailed plan to address income inequality and high household debt among the middle class. It is also safe to assume this plan will be framed as more egalitarian than the Conservatives’ income-splitting plan, and more realistic and responsible than the NDP’s ideas. The policy gap, in other words, will be filled.

What’s more intriguing, and potentially dicey for the Liberals, is the relentless pressure on Trudeau to live up to what I have heard jokingly described as his “Skywalker brand.” It’s actually no joke. The framing of a leader in Arthurian terms, as a good-hearted young hero, is inherently risky, because it makes it incumbent on that leader to live that part, and continue living it.

The problem with the Arthur fable was that -- in the end -- it all came crashing down. Only time will tell if Trudeau can rebuild the Round Table.


mogs moglio said...

Artuterian fable many people believe it to be real Jesus fable also people believe to be real Stephen Harper fable 20% of the populace believe in. Trudeau Fable could quite well get traction.

Owen Gray said...

We shall see, Mogs.

Scotian said...


Interesting article, and interesting points to it, I'll be interested in greater discussion on it than I can give now, I have errands to run until this evening. I'll try to get back to this thread before I call it a day, I think this one has some very worthwhile points to discuss. Thanks for bringing that article to my attention, it was a good read.

Owen Gray said...

It will be interesting to see if the Round Table theory works, Scotian.

lungta said...

"as a good-hearted young hero, is inherently risky, because it makes it incumbent on that leader to live that part, and continue living it."

smiling and taking every conservative policy and turning it 180 degrees in the opposite direction
gives great policy
and really shouldn't be that hard

i sometimes think our "experts" way over think with blinders on

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, lungta, it's not always easy to make a 180 degree turn.

And that may get Trudeau in trouble.

Gyor said...

I puked reading this, the idea of Trudeau as hero or even good guy is absurd.

The real hero is Tom Mulcair, fighting for the little guy, working his ass off, he is brilliant at his job and no one just handed it to him like Trudeau, he earned his successes.

Trudeau is less King Auther and more Prince Charming from the Shrek Movies.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that Mulcair and Harper agree with you, Gyor.