Two hundred and twenty five years ago today, the final draft of the Constitution of the United States was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The First Amendment of the Constitution states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We mention this because earlier today, comic book artist Molly Crabapple (that’s her artwork above, previously published in The Nation) peaceably assembled on the streets of New York City for the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Apparently, the NYPD insisted everyone get on the pavement, and once they were on the pavement they were arrested.
My last two columns generated a certain amount of off-topic political discussion, which is 1) exciting and 2) frightening. The fright stems from the fact that political discussions got us kicked off this site four years ago.
The excitement comes from proving something I have always believed. Feminists claim the personal is political. I think the arts are political, too. You may have a different opinion. It depends in your definition of art. I think art is something created by an artist that makes you see the world in a new way.
Forty years ago I had surgery, and was lying on my parents’ couch zonked on major pain killers. I was reading Dune, watching the Olympics and the political conventions. I couldn’t tell which was which. Maybe that’s because Dune is a mind-blowing book. The sequels never moved me as much. Perhaps it was the drugs, or maybe they need world-class diving in the background.
Different people with different perspectives can find enjoyment in the same entertainment. The Hunger Games, which seemed to me to be a reasonably populist and feminist fable, has made over $200 million as I write this, and I doubt all those ticket-buyers are part of the Occupy Wall Street crowd.
Comic books would seem to be an All-American form of entertainment. Especially superhero comics. Truth, justice and the American Way. Upholders of the law who best criminals and ne’er do wells. And yet, those of us who consider ourselves rebels and/or leftists have found plenty that resonates.
Superman is an undocumented alien. The X-Men are scorned because they are a minority, born different from the rest of us. The Legion of Super-Heroes imagines a future in which we not only survive, but learn to use science to live in peace. Mostly.
Often it is the sensibility of the writer that makes a story resonate politically. Twenty years ago, when Bill Clinton was running for his first term, Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove supported his candidacy. Dan Jurgens did not. If you were reading Superman comics then (when one storyline ran through four different titles, each published a different week of the month), you might have been able to pick out their different points of view.
There are people who share my political beliefs whose work I don’t like, and people with whom I disagrees whose work I read avidly. There are writers like Jamie Delano, who I mostly love but whose work I like less the more I agree with him.
We have an election ahead of us this year, and I hope that, as a nation, we can debate issues on their merits, and not descend into the kind of lies and distortions that frequently foul our discussions. And I hope comics do their part, presenting different issues and different perspectives through the prism of graphic fiction.
Me read Frank Miller’s blog and me think Miller is right. Me think all those people who am mad at Frank are dunderheads.
Me think protesters at Occupy Wall Street just don’t want to clean their own homes. It am easier to go live in a park in New York City and make a new mess there. After the protesters make the park is dirty Mayor Bloomberg is very nice. He send policemen to help protestors move to a new place.
Me heard that in Oakland the policemen did not think the place where the protestors were living wuz dirty enuf, so the policemen helped with tear gas. All the protestors am happy, they laugh and giggle and cry with joy.
Me saw students sitting on ground, me think they could not get up, like that nice lady in the TV ad. The nice policeman tried to help them by putting pepper spray in there faces so they wood sneeze, but me do not know how sneezing wood help the students get up. But at least the nice policeman try and help them.
Me heard a lady had a baby inside her and the policman hit her in the stomak to help the baby come out. Then the lady went to the doktor and the doktor said the baby am dead. The lady am very happy to not have a baby inside her any more.
Me think Amerika is a very noisy country. People yell and shout and march instead of going to their jobs. Me work hard. Me make lots of money and then I give it to the nice taxman. This am fair because if me not give money to taxman he will lose his job. Me not want nobody to lose there job.
Me heard there are some people who make so much money they are called the 1 per cent. Me heard me am part of the 99 per cent. Me not know what this means but the nice man with orange skin in the big house in Washingten must know because he said the 1 per cent does not need to give money to the taxman because they make jobs. Me not understand, because Mr. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital makes my job. Me not know any body at my job named Mister 1 per cent. Me will rite the nice man with the orange skin in Washingten and ask him who Mister 1 per cent is. He am very smart. Me sure he will know.
Me went to school and learnt about Amerika. A long time ago some bad men did not want to pay taxes to the king. They said “no taxation without representation.” Me not know what that means, but the bad men throw tea bags into the cold water. They are very stupid. If me am there me wood tell them u need hot water to make tea. Me make tea at home every morning.
The bad men said “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Me not know what that mean.
The bad men said “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of Amerika.”
Me not know what that mean, either. But silly bad men spelled Amerika wrong. Me fix it for them.
We already knew artist David Lloyd visited Occupy Wall Street when he was in town for the New York Comic Con and liked what he saw– now The Guardian has asked Alan Moore, the other half of the creative team of V for Vendetta how he feels about the image of V being used as the symbol of protest and revolution in the 21st century.
“I suppose when I was writing V for Vendetta I would in my secret heart of hearts have thought: wouldn’t it be great if these ideas actually made an impact? So when you start to see that idle fantasy intrude on the regular world… It’s peculiar. It feels like a character I created 30 years ago has somehow escaped the realm of fiction.”
V for Vendetta tells of a future Britain (actually 1997, nearly two decades into the future when Moore wrote it) under the heel of a dictatorship. The population are depressed and doing little to help themselves. Enter Evey, an orphan, and V, a costumed vigilante who takes an interest in her. Over 38 chapters, each titled with a word beginning with “V”, we follow the brutal, loquacious antihero and his apprentice as they torment the ruling powers with acts of violent resistance. Throughout, V wears a mask that he never removes: bleached skin and rosy cheeks, pencil beard, eyes half shut above an inscrutable grin. You’ve probably come to know it well.
“That smile is so haunting,” says Moore. “I tried to use the cryptic nature of it to dramatic effect. We could show a picture of the character just standing there, silently, with an expression that could have been pleasant, breezy or more sinister.” As well as the mask, Occupy protesters have taken up as a marrying slogan “We are the 99%”; a reference, originally, to American dissatisfaction with the richest 1% of the US population having such vast control over the country. “And when you’ve got a sea of V masks, I suppose it makes the protesters appear to be almost a single organism – this “99%” we hear so much about. That in itself is formidable. I can see why the protesters have taken to it.”
Moore first noticed the masks being worn by members of the Anonymous group, “bothering Scientologists halfway down Tottenham Court Road” in 2008. It was a demonstration by the online collective against alleged attempts to censor a YouTube video. “I could see the sense of wearing a mask when you were going up against a notoriously litigious outfit like the Church of Scientology.”
But with the mask’s growing popularity, Moore has come to see its appeal as about something more than identity-shielding. “It turns protests into performances. The mask is very operatic; it creates a sense of romance and drama. I mean, protesting, protest marches, they can be very demanding, very gruelling. They can be quite dismal. They’re things that have to be done, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re tremendously enjoyable – whereas actually, they should be.”
At one point in V for Vendetta, V lectures Evey about the importance of melodrama in a resistance effort. Says Moore: “I think it’s appropriate that this generation of protesters have made their rebellion into something the public at large can engage with more readily than with half-hearted chants, with that traditional, downtrodden sort of British protest. These people look like they’re having a good time. And that sends out a tremendous message.”
Hello all! Welcome back to my little corner of the Internet. A place I’d like to think you’ve come to like. See what I’ve been doing with the place? I got the wet bar over there in the corner, next to the classic 1996 arcade machine Alien Vs. Predator. I put in those stadium style leather recliners in front of the 60” HD with Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii, in case you want to go faux-bowling. What’s that you said? You want to enjoy some tunage? Let me turn up the 5.1 surround sound, and blast a little Guster. We’ll take it all the way back to Goldfly. Mmmm, yeah, that’s the stuff.
OK, now that you’re all comfy and cozy, let’s chat a little, shall we? I want to address something that’s been nagging me now for a few months. It seems a few people in the industry working today, are pulling double duty. It’s grinding my gears just a bit. Ironic, I know, because I myself am both an artist and a writer. For me to spend the next few paragraphs bitching and moaning seems trite, doesn’t it? Well, that’s the funny thing kiddos. After you made yourselves comfortable, I went and sealed the room. The TV is unplugged, and the wet bar is going back into the closet. You’re stuck here with me, and you’re going to let me get this off my chest. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ahem.
Let me start first with Tony Daniels. Most people know him as the consummate artist of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman a few years back. Daniels’ graceful and detailed figures come from that classic Image background, but over the years he’s added a moody elegance to his work. Such that when he made way to DC, he fit in instantaneously. I’d concur most critics enjoyed his work on the Batman R.I.P. series, and as such, his star was set to shine very bright. Under Morrison’s pen, he was subdued. His pages held back where they needed too… and when they were let loose, the dramatic moments elevated the book to something special. And with that success, he was given the reigns to the post-R.I.P. run, Battle for the Cowl. And more than just the reigns to the art, mind you. He took up both the Writer and Artist chairs for this one. It was, in a few words, a complete mess. Issue after issue Daniels packed his pages with beautifully overdrawn characters in an underdeveloped story. Knowing nothing of the back-room politics of DC, left me wondering how the hand of the editorial staff planted firmly up Tony’s rear felt. Perhaps they got a deal on his page rates? Why spend $150 a page on pencils, and $100 on script, when you can pay one guy $200? I don’t have any clue if that’s close, but, man is it ever a hunch.
And here we stand, years later after everyone thoroughly agreed “Battle” was a train wreck… with Daniels once again doing double duty on “Detective Comics.” What’s the definition of insanity again? Detective Comics has been a lesson in “Too-Much-Titude” if there ever was such a thing. Pages are drenched in details. Figures contort in amazingly moving, completely impossible ways. Gadgets fling and zzzzooom from Batman’s utility belt. And the villains are soaked in macabre costumes, and grimaces. But the story? Incoherent. violent, and dumb. Without a dedicated writer to constrain him, Daniels is producing little more than a highlight reel. The rub is though, he’s already in the big leagues. All this posturing will get him what? Another Batman book?
And Tony’s not alone. Long before he was mounting the double duty cannon, there was – and still is – the God-Damned-Frank Miller. When Frank’s not dropping a giant turd on the Occupy Wall Streeters, he’s peddling his book Batman Super Guy Vs. Mohammad. Holy Terror has been critically shat on… hard. What hurt here of course is the fact that Frank’s art is a personal love of mine. His mastery of simplicity mixed with an amazingly deft hand in page layout and composition is such that I’ve never not loved his art. Sin City? A masterpiece in noir. It’s when Frank turns that majestic hand to the rusty old typewriter in his dank basement that I shudder. It seems that he’s awash in nothing but profanity– in substance, and style. Every story he seems to write is the same. Shallow, angry, and drenched in “noir speak.” Sin City was good, seriously. But to rehash it, in theme, in tone, and in production every time thereafter? It rubs the sheen right off the apple.
We get it, Frank. You like crime. Prostitutes. Guns. Profanity. You hate brown skinned people. Hippies. Comic book fans. Without a guide through the muck, Miller’s overselling his anger. Want to do a book about Batman fighting terrorists? Give it to Brubaker, and I’d have no doubt there’s be gold on them there pages. In Frank’s complete control, we get books in near self-parody.
I could list a few other wrartists here, but I think my point is becoming pretty clear. The beauty of comics comes with the collaboration. When all you have to deal with is just the words, or just the art, it forces you to focus on the nuance of the final product. Forced with the task of doing both? It becomes a very rough mountain to climb. The best books in my collection – the ones I hand out willingly to those uninitiated with the medium, – are always ones where the team creates a work where the ends are much better than the means. On its own, Alan Moore’s script for The Watchmen is breathtaking (if a bit maddening). Dave Gibbons’ artwork for the series turned heads with its skillful pacing and solid figure work. Put together? The book is as perfect a thing as I could ever hope to produce with some Unshaven Lad someday. Left to their own devices though, a one man show skates thin ice trying to maintain both substantially hard roles.
Let’s bring this around, back to the irony at hand, before we end this li’l tirade. For those out there who’ve read an Unshaven Comic, there’s little doubt that this article would seem like the pot bitching at the kettle for being black. I myself have donned the solo credit in our last issue (well, for half the issue…). Am I so bold as to suggest I somehow surpassed Tony Daniels or Frank Miller? Hell no. I happily admit that I think my art stinks. I don’t have the skill or talent to compose a page the way those men do.
And hell, I’m a nobody. If I can’t take a little leap of faith in myself and try to tackle both roles in a book, what am I doing trying to break into the industry? Where Tony and Frank have already made it, and proven they have the skills to pay the bills… I’m still slinging logos and catalogs to feed my family. Until DC comes calling, offering me a role in the big leagues, I’m swinging for the fences, showing the scouts that I can pitch and bat if I have to. Just don’t ask me to do both at the same time.
OK, the door’s unlocked. The wet bar is back online. Who needs their drink freshened up? I’m sorry to have kept you so long. Don’t think of this as a rant though. Consider it an open forum. Do you think playing double duty leads to a lack of quality on one side of the page or the other? Speak, and be heard, my citizens of Fishtopia!
Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V For Vendetta continues to inspire as a symbol of resistance. Here’s the latest version.
L.A. street artist Shepard Fairey has released a second original design for the Occupy Wall Street movement — and this time, instead of playing it safe with a wistful scene out of an Angela Davis documentary, he’s given his own (in)famous HOPE poster from Obama’s first election campaign a rebellious makeover.
It uses all the same colors and graphic-design aesthetics as the original. Only difference is, Fairey has replaced President Obama’s heavenward gaze with a “V for Vendetta” Guy Fawkes mask — one of the key props used by Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Across the bottom, the poster reads…
… “Mister President, we HOPE you’re on our side” (little passive-aggressive there?), and it’s stamped with a “We are the 99 percent” logo.
For one last dose of irony, Fairey recycles the same red-white-and-blue “O” he once used as Obama’s first initial into a ring around the “99 percent” slogan.
Lots of ruminating this week. Mostly political. Mostly causing me to make sure my passport is up-to-date and to wonder what the hell country I can move to if the Repugnanticans – my term for what passes as the Republican Party these days – actually win the Presidency.
This past Thursday, November 17th, marked the two-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street. Some smart mouth caller to the Tom Hartman show pointed out that the prefix “anni” comes from the Latin anno, which means “year,” so November 17th couldn’t be the “two month anniversary.” Why did I think while listening to this jackass that he was a front for the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity or Karl Rove’s American Crossroads? So just call it an observance, a tribute, a celebration, or a commemoration, asshole.
The Los Angeles Times reported on November 20th that police officers who just walked up to students peacefully demonstrating in solidarity with the Occupy movement at the University of California-Davis and pepper-sprayed them dead-on in their faces have been put on administrative leave while their actions are investigated. (You can go to my Facebook page to see the video, or check out this link.) Hmmm. Administrative leave. That means they’re getting paid. Just like…
There’s been a lot of noise on two areas of the blogosphere that I follow – comics and politics – because Frank Miller recently posted about the Occupy Wall Street movement on his blog. My favorite response, as usual, was on TBogg’s blog, because I love me some snark.
See that photo over there? It’s had an honorable position on my refrigerator since it was taken about 15 years ago at the San Diego Comic Convention. It’s me and Frank, back when he could still walk the floor.
I’ve known Frank since the late 1970s. I met him soon after I met Denny O’Neil, and we hung out a lot when he was drawing the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14. My friend, Legs McNeil <http://www.amazon.com/Legs-McNeil/e/B000APOLAA>, was (and is) a huge comic book fan. He managed a band, Shrapnel&tag=associatizer-20, that was essentially Sgt. Rock set to music. We conspired to put them into an issue of a comic book, a mission that required many trips to CBGBs.
I don’t remember talking politics with him, but its possible that I did. There are a lot of people in comics that I like, but with whom I disagree politically. Dan Jurgens, Larry Hama, Chuck Dixon – we don’t agree, and that’s fine. We also tend to like different kinds of music, movies and books. We have fun conversations.
Our disagreements never led me to boycott their work. And I’ll boycott quite easily. For example, I haven’t bought any Revlon cosmetics since Ron Perelman plundered Marvel.
But I won’t give up something that gives me joy. If my joy is ruined by my disagreement with the owner or creator, then I’ll give it up.
What amused me about this particular kerfuffle is that, once you got away from the comic book sites, the reactions were fairly hilarious. Most people seem to think that Frank Miller, not Zach Snyder, was responsible for the movie, 300. It’s true that Snyder spent a lot of time and energy trying to mimic specific pages of Frank’s work, but he also added a lot of other stuff to fill out the 117 minutes of playing time.
I disagree with Frank on this issue. I think he’s wrong, profoundly wrong. I think he’s far away from this issue, and getting his information from less than reliable sources.
But I don’t think he deserves to be called names. As grown-ups who defend the free exchange of ideas, we can disagree with each other. We should. But it’s bad for the country when we descend into name-calling.
Outside my window it’s January in October; the snow is falling in thick full flakes, the wind is howling, and the steam radiator is hissing and spitting heat while I write this. I just finished watching Captain America: The First Avenger. The perfect movie for a day like a day like this, when I’m all warm and cozy inside while a little Ice Age is raging on the other side of my window.
It’s a really great movie, totally true to its comic book roots, and yet with just enough of an underpinning of truth that enables – for me, at least – a total suspension of disbelief. I haven’t felt this way about a super-hero movie since I first saw Superman. Yeah, I dug Batman Begins and Dark Knight and I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. And I liked the X-Men movies, even though they were all about Wolverine – hell, the guy even makes a quick cameo (brilliantly done and totally in character) in X-Men: First Class; but Superman and Captain America are movies that leave me walking on air and just full of joi de vivre.
So much of the credit, like 99% of it, goes to Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman, and I think, in the same way, 99% of the credit for the success of Captain America goes to Chris Evans. They both really get it. They get that these characters are representations of, characterizations of – no, the embodiment of the American dream, the American ideal, the “gee whiz, this is the best country in the whole world, and I am one damn lucky fellow to be living in it” experience.
When suits at Marvel made the decision a few years ago to kill Captain America, I was so upset. Honestly – and I mean this in the best possible way – it was for me as if Christopher Reeve had just died all over again. Reeves had proved himself a true Superman, a true American hero, in so many ways; and his death was, for me, an end of an era. And then, a few years later, and all for the sake of $$$, for publicity, Cap is dead. And I felt like – well, let me put it as succinctly as I can:
This country is fucked.
In 1957, Elia Kazan directed A Face In The Crowd. Starring Andy Griffith in his film debut, it’s the story of Lonesome Rhodes, a hard-drinking country-western singer pulled out of obscurity and given his own radio show by talent scout Patricia Neal. His “down-home” philosophical spiels soon lead to his own television show, leading to worshipful fans, drooling sponsors with money, and political influence. Now drunk on power instead of alcohol, Rhodes is a manipulator of Machiavellian proportion. And although A Face In The Crowd was not considered a success during its theatre run, it has proven to be, as so many of Kazan’s movies were – prescient in its depiction of the overtaking by pop culture and big business of the American political system.
And now we have Herman Cain. Everybody knows him as “The Pizza King,” and who hasn’t seen his “Imagine There’s No Pizza” performance? (John Lennon must be rolling over in his grave. Yoko, can’t you sue him or something?) But did you know that he’s also a gospel singer, and performed on the 13-track album Sunday Morning released by Selah Sound Production & Melodic Praise Records in 1996? Did you know that he writes an op-ed column that is syndicated by the North Star Writers Group to over 50 newspapers? Did you know that he has written numerous books – Leadershipis Common Sense; Speak as a Leader; CEO of SELF; They Think You’re Stupid – and that the latest, This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House, is on the bookshelves now, and that he is not only campaigning, but on a national book tour as we speak? And did you know that, until he formally announced his candidacy, he hosted The Herman Cain Show on WSB-AM in Atlanta? Lonesome Rhodes, you’ve met your match!
So is he just a huckster peddling his wares? Well, let’s see. Did you know that Cain was on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve in Kansas City? And that he was the chairman of the Omaha branch? (It’s not surprising that Fox News never reports on that, since the Fed is one of the big bad bogeymen under attack by the Repugnanticans.) And that he sat on the boards of some of America’s biggest corporations, including Nabisco and Whirlpool?
So he ain’t just a huckster, he’s a corporate toady and a bankster too! (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Together, are you listening?)
And since 2005, and ending when he announced his candidacy, Herman Cain worked for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing political action committee (PAC). You know who funds AFP? The Koch brothers!!!! You know who’s Cain’s campaign manager? Mark Block, his co-worker at AFP. You know Cain’s senior economic adviser, Richard Lowrie, he of the totally huckster 9-9-9 tax plan? Guess where he met Cain? Yep. Lowrie sat on the AFP board of directors until Cain announced his candidacy.
Yeah, good ol’ Herman Cain. He’s just a regular old joe. A face in the crowd.
Watching Shane now.
Come back, Cap. Cap. Cap, come back. Come back, Cap! Caaaaaaap!!!!!!!
There is no such thing as nonfiction. There’s only story.
I ‘spect I have some ‘splainin’ to do on that one, Lucy.
Story is a narrative comprising selected series of events arranged towards a desired effect. That’s the same whether you’re telling a Batman story, a newstory, a history, a biography, a novel, a short story, a screenplay or what have you. What determines what events the storyteller chooses to emphasize, de-emphasize, omit, invent, re-interpret, or fudge is whatever ends or point that said storyteller wants to make.
“Newstories?” you ask. “You’re describing the news as all fiction?” You can prove it yourself. Something happens and it’s on the news. How The New York Times covers that event is going to be different than how Fox News covers it. Witness Occupy Wall Street.
The difference between fiction and “non-fiction” is that in fiction we make up the events (although in historical fiction, we often use real events) while the reporter, the biographer, the historian usually use actual events. I have read histories or biographies where there are so few known historical facts that the biographer/historian spends time speculating on what “must” have happened.
In no case, however, are the events they describe exactly what happened. They would have to describe every little thing that occurred without giving one item more emphasis than another. It is not reality; it is the writer’s story of what happened. All the events in a newstory or a history or a biography happen through the lens and the filter of the storyteller, which is formed by that storyteller’s own experiences and point of view. It may be further informed by the editor or producer or director or the PR guy.
It’s all story.
When I’m writing, two of the key questions I have to ask is 1) whose story is it and 2) what story am I trying to tell? The answers to those two questions make or break the story. I maintain it’s no different elsewhere.
Science books? No different. The events are the data and the writer emphasizes or de-emphasizes which data according to what he or she thinks is relevant.
Text books? Oh lordy, are they ever becoming fiction. I know people who work in the text book industry and what goes in, what gets left out, what gets emphasized or de-emphasized depends on the largest school districts and what their school boards want in them or left out. Those districts are in California and Texas, by the way, and they determine what story gets told. If you’re kid is getting creationism taught as a theory equal with evolution, it’s because some powerful school districts have decided that’s part of the story to be taught.
But numbers don’t lie, right? Math books are non-fiction.
Numbers are made to lie all the time. We got into this economic mess because of the fiction some people sold using a selected set of numbers. If someone is spinning the numbers, then they’re telling you a story using those numbers. In other words, a fiction.
Events happen all around us all the time. Thanks to the wonders of the cel phone, the tablet, the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on, we are constantly bombarded with more events.
Story is how we make sense of the world, of existence, of our lives. We emphasize some things, de-emphasize other, omit a ton of stuff in order to create our own story, one we can live with, cope with, make some sort of demented sense of.
Story, and fiction are not lies per se; they are interpreted reality. What we experience, how we interpret it, is all-true but none of it is completely true. It’s all fiction to some degree. None of it is the complete truth. The part we play in each story varies according to which story is being told and who is telling it. I am, hopefully, the hero of my own story but I may be the villain or antagonist of another, a supporting character in yet another, a cameo or background character in many others. Same for you.
It’s not a bad thing. Story is how we make sense of reality. The more stories we hear, the wider our understanding of that reality. Just keep in mind – everyone has a story to tell. Just ask yourself – why are they telling you a given story? Why am I telling you this one? What story do you make of it?