chucknorris

As part of her first week in Grade 7, my daughter (and her entire class) was assigned to conduct a peer-to-peer interview with a classmate as an exercise to socialize the kids and transform them from a disparate group of previous-school attendees to a current-school community. The value of quickly constructing a community among Grade 7 students who will only spend two years together is very high at this particular school; in October they will spend three days at a camp where they will engage in the kind of team building activities that the corporate world pays big money for on occasion to connect the human dots between its employees and that we, at Idea Couture, typically weave into our Noodleplay process. But enough of Business Development; back to the peer-to-peer interview.

One of my daughter’s questions to her interview subject was, Who is your hero? His response was surprising to me and, as 12 year old girls are prone to saying these days, so random to her…but only after I explained who the hero was: Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris!?!? What 12 year old boy names Chuck Norris as his current hero unless he belongs to the right-side of the Larry King watching Republican? My suspicion is fairly obvious: a kid whose dad was into Chuck Norris 10 years before the birth of his son. That Chuck got the nod from a kid whose potential list of pop culture heroes could include Alexander Ovechkin, Georges St. Pierre, Tony Hawk or – if he’s prone to building his game with the girls – Rob Pattinson or Taylor Lautner – is about as left field as it gets. But not when you consider how pop culture heroes are an enduring part of our cultural mythology.

Film and TV, alongside music, are the most powerful receivers and transmitters of our mythologies. The Internet is certainly catching up, but it has yet to produce the sort of mainstream, focused narratives (as opposed to activities) that we like to latch on to as a way to formulate our thoughts, values, languages, attitudes, opinions and practices. To quote from the school of consumer insights, it has yet to truly fulfill our “unmet and/or unarticulated needs” for plot, storyline, character, drama, passion, intrigue, romance and so on.

Granted, there is some content of mythical proportions being generated online and, if your TV is on the semi-fritz like mine or you don’t like to schedule your life around your favourite shows like me, the Internet the most effective way to transmit the myth-rich content of HBO, Showcase and the wonderful world of DivX streaming video.

So where did this kid discover and latch on to the POW-rescuing Texas Lone Star sherriff? Maybe through YouTube: score one point for the Internet and its wealth of throwback content. Possibly at the local video store: score one point for Blockbuster for still eeking out some profit in the face of BitTorrent and DivX streaming. Or maybe in a home with some dusty VHS tapes and a dad who, like this one making his daughter watch Harry Hamlin in Clash of the Titans or listen to Monty Python records, wanted to keep a mythology particularly close to his heart stay alive through his son: score one point for the power of transmitting narratives and their heroes through the ancient media of family time.

Thoughts like this percolate during personal time. Maybe I’ll bring it up during my meeting with those insurance execs this week in the States when I tell them that their brand could use a little Chuck Norris action. You think they’ll get it?

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