Calhoun

A few weeks ago, I celebrated Women Who Wow Wednesday with my tribute to Incredible Women, three females from Pixar’s film The Incredibles. It was the first time I shined a spotlight on animated characters that epitomize true heroism. This week, having recently seen Wreck-It Ralph, I want to concentrate my efforts on Calhoun, the tougher-than-nails soldier of death who can burn a hole through any alien that comes her way.

Sergeant Calhoun
Sergeant Calhoun

Rather than take the traditional route of describing Calhoun in all her glory as a brazen warrior and defender of Hero’s Duty, I thought I’d take a different approach.

What is a true hero?

A true hero is someone who goes beyond themselves to fulfill a role they never intended on fulfilling. We can recognize these people by their humility in what they do. They do the job never expecting anything in return. The satisfaction they gain comes from making the world a better place to live. Sometimes they have to make decisions that will hurt those they love. This is necessary for the greater good, even if it may harm a few of those who they’re trying to protect.

On the other side of the coin lies the enemy. They’re slick, smooth talking, and always ready with an answer as to why things are the way they are. Their oily tongues pay tribute to the eloquent words they speak. They reassure those in peril all will be well. All will change. All will be better—if—no one disrupts the status quo. Their countenance is that of light, but in their hearts lies darkness. They are snakes ready to pounce on the innocent.

In the center of it all rests a virtual Utopia. A city no one would suspect as having any problems. On the outside things seem to run smoothly. The citizens receive their meager allotment of resources in exchange for their forced labor, although they don’t know its forced. The city runs without difficulty as long as everyone completes their assigned duties.

Sergeant Calhoun Portrait
Sergeant Calhoun Portrait

If everything’s running smoothly, why ruin it?

The hero usually is the first one to recognize something in the Utopian garden is just not right. Sometimes, it’s the hint of how the enemy answers questions without ever revealing anything. Sometimes, it has to do with how superficial things look. It could be anything, really. But in the midst of it all is the hero, knowing something needs fixing.

In the movie Wreck-It Ralph, Calhoun is that hero. A golden-haired character with a dark backstory, she recognizes something bad’s happening to the world she inhabits and needs to fix it—fast. As opposed to a diplomatic solution, she opts for proactive engagement. With Calhoun, there’s no such thing as aggressive negotiations because with Calhoun there’s no such thing as negotiating. She slaps on her weapon and fires. No 20 Questions. No sob stories of how she feels neglected and unloved, blah, blah, blah. She just fires.

Now, wouldn’t life be easier if everyone follows her example? I’ll leave you with that thought.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Wreck-It Ralph? What did you think of Calhoun?

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15 thoughts on “Calhoun

  1. Love your description of a hero, and the contrast of the enemy. Heroes often walk a fine line between good and evil, doing what is necessary at the risk of great personal loss and making the calls no one else wants to make. A hero of good character will mature and be refined in their circumstances, but an enemy will allow the cost to push them into a life of manipulation and control.

    Good stuff to contemplate! Especially when writing (I’m filing this away for later use).

    • Thanks, I had a lot of fun writing this! Much of that hero/enemy/Utopia portion I’d written with a specific real life situation in mind. The obvious challenge was to conceal the story within the story and have it resonate as part of the post itself. I’d surprised myself when I found it all fit perfectly and I didn’t have to elaborate further. Those who know me know what I’m talking about here. I also agree, there is a fine line between hero and enemy. What’s that saying? The world’s worse atrocities are committed by those individuals with the best intentions.

      Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  2. Great post, Jack. I loved your prose for the descriptions of heroes, villains and the utopia/dystopia caught between them. Very well done. I haven’t seen Wreck-it Ralph, but maybe I can convince the adolescent to watch it with me one night.

  3. Yay, so glad you did Calhoun. I didn’t even know her name. She reminds me of Kristen Lamb whose social media book Rise of the Machines is awesome! I hope you’ll read it it explains shifting twitter behavior 😉

    • She was fun to write about, Catherine! I wasn’t sure what kind of angle I wanted for the story, so I chose a rather arms-length approach. As I said, I had lots of fun with it!

      I ought to pick that book up. Shifting Twitter behavior? How so?

  4. I haven’t seen this film, but my curiousity is piqued! I like your description of a hero as someone who “goes beyond themselves to fulfill a role they never intended on fulfilling.” That’s profound, and encompasses a lot of roles, both violent ones and non-violent. Sometimes being “the patient one” can make a person a hero, then, if that patience is required but perhaps outside of their nature or inclination? There’s lots of food for thought here…

    • I was going for something deeper than the regular Wednesday post. I’m glad you were able to catch on to what I was trying to do. I wrote it so the middle portion could be interpreted on multiple levels. I guess it worked!

      • Yeah, it did!

        I was thinking too of that line in ParaNorman (good film – have you seen it?) when the Grandmother says “It’s okay to be afraid, as long as you don’t let it change who you are.” I think she means not to let fear keep us from doing the right thing. And that’s heroic too…

  5. Great choice, Calhoun is one of those rare characters that is both affectionate pardoy and loving tribute of the rough and tumble;e sci-fi chick. But discovers she can have another dimension when the game is turned off.

    • Thanks, amb! I’d thought about writing a separate post about heroes, but then I found I could fit the work here. There’s also a hidden story to this post that will make sense more to those trapped in what I’m talking about. I didn’t make it obvious, but it’s there. 🙂

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