The Agent’s #YearOfTheIronWoobie: Three Badasses To Motivate and Inspire Us Through 2017

We all know it and we’ve all been talking about it; The year 2016 can go F*** itself.

Around the world, the story has been the same thing ad nauseam – racial and religious violence breaking out, politics becoming a joke, and many of the great thinkers and artists we’ve loved being taken from us en masse. We’ve all been emotionally battered by this year and we’ve had enough.

In storytelling, a character who seems to be made to suffer is often referred to as a Woobie. But what happens when a Woobie gets so utterly beaten down by the cosmos that they can no longer feel sorry for themselves and make it their duty to oppose fate through every step on their moral path? You get an Iron Woobie.

So, as an ultimate middle finger to 2016 and in an attempt to encourage people to be more proactive in setting this crap-sack world of ours straight, I’m using these final moments of the year to declare 2017 “The Year Of The Iron Woobie.” And to start, here are three great examples of people whose determination and conviction in the face of adversity we should strive to emulate.

Guts

A brief forwarning: this guy's S*** is about to get dark.

A brief forewarning: this guy’s S*** is about to get dark.
Source: Wikipedia

To me and many other anime fans, Berserk‘s anti-hero protagonist isn’t just an Iron Woobie – he’s THE Iron Woobie.

Guts has literally suffered so much that his entire life is essentially a prolonged trigger warning. He was born from the corpse of his executed mother, watched his adoptive mother die from the plague, and was beaten and pimped out by his foster father before killing him in self-defence. Even when he finally got a taste of comradery in a mercenary group, his commander betrayed them all, slaughtered all of his friends (save for his girlfriend whom he abused in from him), gouged out his eye, and forced him to cut off his own arm.

While Guts’ morals of vengeance and bloodshed may be questionable, he displays the greatest quality of the Iron Woobie, fearless determination. He wakes up every morning, gets the crap beaten out of him by something WAY out of his league, and always manages to find the one and only way to win so he can do it all over again tomorrow – even if that only way means having to put himself in harm’s way to get that critical advantage.

It’s a stark reminder that, on some days, you just have to look forward to the struggle knowing that it’s another chance to prove you’re better than others – or even you – give yourself credit for.

Marowak

“I’m-a beat a motherf***er with the bones of ANOTHER motherf***er!”
Source: Pokémon by Review

Some of you are a little shocked right now… The rest are just nodding and thinking, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

You see, underneath the cutesy exterior of Pokémon, the world is quite dark. Nowhere is that more obvious than with Cubone and it’s evolved form Marowak.

Cubone is famous among fans for being one of the saddest critters in the games. The skull mask it wears is actually the skull of its deceased mother that it’s in mourning for. However, the game’s Pokédex entries make it a point to show how the evolved Marowak has made itself stronger in response to its harsh life saying that it, “… has overcome its sadness at the loss of its mother and grown tough. This Pokémon’s tempered and hardened spirit is not easily broken.”

Marowak reminds us that all experiences – even the painful ones – can and should be used to make us better people; either to become wiser and kinder or more hardened to defend ourselves and others from a cruel world. At some point, you need to stop crying and start fighting again.

Audie Murphy

We salute you, solider. Source: Wikipedia

We salute you, soldier.
Source: Wikipedia

I bet you didn’t expect a REAL-LIFE Iron Woobie on this list.

Audie Leon Murphy, First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and Major in the Texas Army National Guard, was an actor, a songwriter, and the most decorated American soldier to serve in World War II. But those medals and the safety of nations came at a heavy price for him.

Murphy was a long time sufferer of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after the war. But, rather than feel sorry for himself, he used his experience to become one of the most outspoken people on PTSD (then referred to as “Shell Shock”) in order to demand the help that soldiers coming back from the field needed.

Murphy used his pain as the impetus to drive him to save others from a similar fate and I feel we should hold ourselves to a similar standard. If you find yourself hurting, you owe it to yourself and the world to fight back so you can help the ones that hurt just like you.

In Response to Kyle Kallgren (or “A Motivational Question to Start Your day”)

Ladies and gentlemen; the smartest man on the internet (Neil DeGrasse Tyson doesn’t count).
Source: anobiumlit.com

Recently, I’ve been trying to catch up on the work of producers online that I’ve been missing due to my shift of focus elsewhere. One of the people whose work I’m happy to be seeing again is Kyle Kallgren of Brows Held High.

But, more so than his reviews of obscure “high art” cinema (which I then seek out regardless of quality just because they’re so much different and interesting from the blockbusters), I enjoy his deeper analysis of mainstream pop culture in Between the Lines.

In his most recent BtL episode, Kyle used The Avengers and the larger Marvel universe to show how the heroes all have a different definition of what it means to be a hero and how it reflects our conflicting philosophies in real life.

The hard-hitting part for me was when he put a more intellectual spin on the classic nerd question of, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be,” by asking a much more important question; “If you could have any superpower, how would you use it?

I was not expecting that question, nor did I expect it to make me reflect so much on my own motivations in life. In retrospect, Kyle’s describing of character motivations in terms of, “the heroism in [insert motivation],” helped me to focus on what I what out of life and I want to share that meditative mantra with you.

First, you need to know what your powers would be as a meta-human. This was the easiest part for me since I knew what powers I’ve wanted from childhood. I always wanted to travel to other worlds and possess an amazing capacity for knowledge (partially manifesting in recreating tactics and techniques) to collect knowledge and wisdom from around the universe. Think Brainiac sans world destruction.

But it’s when I thought about how I’d use all that knowledge that I understood my motivation in life. I want to use the things I’ve learned to improve the lives of others as well as myself. I’d share my intellect with those in need that they could help themselves and turn that knowledge against those that would use it to harm others.

To use the mantra that Kyle gave us, my ideology is, “the heroism in enlightenment.”

So, this week, I want to hear your ideas of heroism. What would your powers be and how would you use them? Share them with me and other readers that you may get a better understanding of what you want from yourself and the world.

Oh, and if Kyle happens to be reading this, thank you for making us all a little more enlightened.