Interesting that you mention the television series “Beauty and the Beast,” a title meant to call to mind the fairy tale of the same name (never got into it – can’t recall ever watching a full episode – but I do seem to remember that his character, Vincent, inhabited a subterranean world, beneath the city, which Jung and others equate with the depths of the unconscious psyche). Good to see Ron Perlman is still out there, currently appearing in “Don’t Look Up” (an end-of-the-world satire with a sizable cast of talented actors currently streaming on Netflix) in bit part as a traditional macho hero.
And I, too, enjoyed John Denver’s music – and I appreciate how you point out that, even though he filled that role for you, as a child you didn’t think of him as a “hero,” but rather a friend, only recognizing him as a hero in retrospect.
Today I can recall so many people in my life that I looked up to and admired – but, at the time, I would never have thought of either of my parents, nor neighbors, relatives, or family friends, as “heroes.” My view as a child was more black-and-white: heroes are good guys – the main good guy (with special emphasis on “guy” – a female hero was an exotic concept, something that maybe applied to Batgirl or Wonder Woman in the comics).
Heroes were extraordinary, and could not lose – and, as a child, I had trouble separating a fictional hero from the actor playing him on the screen. I grew up watching back-and-white episodes of Superman in syndication; I remember intense confusion and misunderstanding when I eventually learned that George Reeves, start of that series, had blown his brains out (how could that be – Superman was bulletproof!).
And, of course, it the subtleties of the antihero would have been lost on the young me.
Fortunately, we grow up – and as we mature, so does our understanding of what a hero is (if we’re lucky).