As with all messianic stories, we find ourselves battling against time. An independent film being made by a group of British Muslims to explore the idea of the modern day hero asks, “What if our generation is the last?” Like Beowulf, it turns the idea of the hero on its head, “Are we ready for a hero?” it challenges. The hero is no longer a stand-alone figure; he needs us. The film, 313 The Movie, is based on the concept that the Mahdi – the rough and ready Islamic name for messiah – will come to restore peace and justice to the world when there are 313 good people ready and willing to support him. The student-protagonist of the film stamps his feet with our modern day defiance and pride: “You all need to wake up and stop dreaming, there ain’t nobody comin’ to save us.” But his words also give voice to our present-day angst and despair: what if in reality nobody can save us, not even ourselves. Should we hope for a hero as our last resort?
Are heroes (and saints for that matter) really possible in the age of 24-hour rolling media, mass literacy, the internet and fawn-ication over celebrity?
It is likely any hero today would find him/herself under constant attention — their every move, taste and choice would be scrutinised by panels of self-styled experts in the media, and the hordes of bloggers and pundits on the world wide web. These heroes would be deconstructed (technically, as well as loosely, speaking) and reconstructed a thousand times over until their heroism is nothing other than a marketing gimmick that endorses the latest fashionable apparel, sell us a singles to reach the top of the charts, or a bid to become an elected official — anything, so long as it underlines their own popularity.