Sully is the true story of the epic and some would say miraculous water landing of a plane on the Hudson River, piloted by Captain Chesley Sullenberger. It focuses on the aftermath of that flight where Sully and his co-pilot were subjected to investigation. In many ways that investigation was simply a matter of routine and good practice, reviewing what went wrong and trying to learn from it. While that was the rationale, in actuality it became more of an attack which sought to villainize Sully and ruin his career (largely because insurance didn’t want to pay the claim). In this world, we have too few true heroes, but Sully is the story of just such a one.
It is a bit of madness that we have exchanged the hero for the celebrity. We make people like the Kardashians heroes, overlooking, minimizing and excusing their every flaw. But when we find a true hero, we scrutinize and analyze and look for any reason to discredit him (or her). (I talked about this very idea here, in my discussion of Suicide Squad that would rather trust the villains than Superman.) We are merciless toward real heroes. We put them under the microscope looking for any minute flaw to blow it out of proportion (and secretly hoping for major skeletons in the closet), telling them how we could do better. Meanwhile, we are ridiculously generous and uncaring of every egregious flaw in the unheroic. We know we could it better, but we don’t care. Maybe it’s because they make us comfortable, our flawed celebrities. (Let me use that word for those we exalt that aren’t actually heroic, and leave the word hero for the truly heroic.) Maybe the really good guys, the true heroes, make us uncomfortable because the raise the bar for us. Or, maybe we are just afraid we’ll be disappointed when we find out they are human. At least we know the celebs are human and don’t expect too much from them.
What makes Sully a true hero? I think that’s worth looking at. It’s really not the landing on the Hudson. That’s only what made him famous. He was heroic long before that.