• James Hewlett

Who Needs A Hero?

I don’t tend to put people on pedestals, at least I try not to. That goes for everyone; friends, family, colleagues, strangers, celebrities… we’re all just people. We all have flaws and we all have positive attributes.

That’s not to say I don’t think more highly of some people than I do others, I certainly do. There are people who’s opinion o trust and value more than others, there are people who I find more inspiring than most and there are people I, for no particular reason, just don’t like. Sorry, Russell Crowe.

The point is that I always try to ground people in the same way.

For well over a year now I have had three names written on the note I keep for ideas of posts I can write. I’ve had those names under the heading, Heroes, but I’ve put off and never felt confident writing whatever blog post that could be. I didn’t have anything in mind when I noted it down, I just did. Sometimes that’s how my brain works.

As I have just over a week to go with this thing I decided to tackle this note instead of deleting it and never attempting to write something for it. I don’t really know what it is going to be or if it will be any good or not, but I’m going to do it anyway.

The three names I wrote down were people I have either currently or at some point, considered a hero of mine, an inspiration in one way or another or just someone I think is really fucking cool.

This isn’t a comprehensive list and just because I don’t mention someone it doesn’t mean they don’t have as high or higher place on my totem pole. But keep in mind that I still think of people as people first and foremost.

The original way this kind of topic came up stems from a conversation I had with my brother many years ago when we had a gig in a two room nightclub in Eastbourne and would drive a couple of hours each way every Monday night. I have no recollection of the context but I remember him saying his three biggest inspirations were our dad, Elvis and the first name I also had written down on my note; Shawn Michaels.

I watched a lot of wrestling between 1995 and 1999 and throughout that time, good guy or bad, Shawn Michaels was the shit.

He was the first celebrity hero I remember having and I was in, hook, line and sinker for everything the WWF was putting out.

It’s hilarious looking back on that time period now and knowing just how badly the company was struggling while in competition with their rivals. I had no idea at the time and was just buying in on what I was seeing.

I think it was the mixture of exciting in-ring performances, charismatic promos and personality and cocky attitude that I enjoyed and looked up to.

I still think HBK is one of the most entertaining performers to watch, in any medium, but knowing now what kind of person he was/became around that time almost makes it more impressive. Dude was a massive dick thanks to a lot of alcohol and pill problems, but to a kid my age none of that came arepas on screen so I ate it up.

I still get a kick at hearing his music hit on the rare occasion I watch an event he may pop up in but it is now mostly a nostalgia thing more than anything else.

The next name on the list shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who even vaguely knows me. Donald Glover.

If there is something this man can’t do, nay be exceptional at, we’ve yet to see it.

I have so much admiration and envy for the the enormity of Donald Glover’s creativity and talent that it isn’t even funny.

Like most people, I first noticed him as one of the lead actors on the NBC sitcom Community, but then quickly recognised his name in the writing credits for 30 Rock and when I saw him being interviewed on an episode of a podcast I watched, The Totally Rad Show, about his YouTube comedy group I went looking for more.

It was at that time that I discovered his musical career under the name Childish Gambino and the mixtape Culdesac. Shortly thereafter the EP dropped and the following year his official debut album, Camp was released as my friends and I were all ravenously consuming anything we could find of his stuff.

All this to say that my love of this guy has only continued to grow over the last twelve years as I have followed his career closer than Palpatine watching a young Anakin Skywalker.

Donald Glover is only a couple of years older than I am and I think the shared generation is something that keeps him so prevalent for me, I’ve seen him grow and change as his career has evolved and in recent years his backing away from the spotlight while continuing to work on some of the most interesting things he ever has has been something I’ve greatly admired. He really doesn’t seem like someone who is interested in fame, more in expressing his creativity in the multiple forms he chooses.

The fact that the projects he does choose always seem to line up exactly to my tastes and interests is just an extra eerie facet of my love for this dude.

The final name is almost certainly the least well known but, to me is just as ‘famous’ as anyone else you could think of.

Geoff Ramsey is one of the co-founders of Rooster Teeth and under that umbrella Achievement Hunter. He has been integral in launching numerous projects for those Austin based studios as well as others in the ever expanding family of content creators.

But while I have loved the work he has been putting out since 2004, it is the man himself I admire more than anything.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Geoff a couple of times at different events and at vastly different points in his career and life. Something that stood out to me there and has always come across in whatever outlet I’ve seen him in is his sincerity. He is a man who has been through his share of shit, often self inflicted, and come out the other side. He has a deep level of introspection and understanding that I relate to massively. Geoff Ramsey is a man who has fucked up, repeatedly and sometimes spectacularly but almost always in a self-destructive way. I can recognise traits in people who may dive into a bad situation even when they know it isn’t going to end well. There’s just a bug in some people’s brain that makes you go, “you know what, I know this is dumb and won’t end well, but I’m going to do it anyway.”

There is also a lot of care and love in the guy and for someone who lived a very open and public life through many, many videos, podcasts, gameplays and other content, it has been fascinating following not just the professional but personal life of this man.

He has gone through divorce, battled alcoholism, raised his daughter, losing close friends, shepherded multiple successful channels and been the father figure as well as authority figure for numerous others all in a public way.

At times Geoff has been antagonistic, playing the asshole in order to get the next laugh but when incidents occur that require more a thoughtful response, and there has been an unfortunate number of those in the past few years, he has not only stepped up to the plate but has knocked it out of the park.

Throughout all of that he has remained true to himself, his values and his ideals and that is what I admire the most.

I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. A lot of it is just sucking the dick of people I think are pretty cool, but that’s why I wanted to preface it by saying that despite my admiration for these people, be it past or present, I don’t aspire to be like them. Everyone needs to discover who they are themselves. Take elements of other people and build your own personal cocktail of you from what works, throwing out the rest to be enjoyed from a far.

Except style and fashion... in that meaningless regard I completely ape Donald and Geoff as much as possible.


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