“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Either she homeless, or she got problems. That’s the only reason she run to a black man.” And with those words Charles Ramsey is thrust into stardom. From the tube to YouTube is colored with Charles Ramsey candor. His rugged charm is inescapable. Thoughts – unvarnished. Feelings – unfiltered. Charles Ramsey is raw to the bone. I think this is one of the appeals of Charles Ramsey.
Without diminishing the fact that 3 women who were rescued from 10 years of hell in a home dungeon, out of the grips of a ‘mad man’, Ariel Castro, I want to focus on Charles Ramsey’s claim to fame. It is not that he sought fame, but it is more conferred on. We the viewers claim him as our knight in shining armour who performed this heroic feat. He is the people’s knight – unassuming and unabashed. Far from the mythic character that we usually see of our heroes, this “Dark Knight” does not come to us as a heralded doctor, shrewd lawyer, or courageous firefighter. He comes as simply the guy next door – the guy or gal that we always want to be but feel ashamed to be outside our home.
The pressure to live up to be someone who you are not can be very deflating – no doubt imprisoning. Where all the images you see in the media are people with the million-dollar smile, suave hair do, and picturesque career of an entertainer, the allure builds to take on the mythic persona: beautiful, strong and flawless. Unfortunately, beauty is fleeting; strength is taxing; and flawlessness is elusive. Nevertheless we pursue these elusive qualities, and the bars within are strengthened. The inner imprisonment is lengthened. Charles Ramsey is our momentary breath of fresh air from a regular hero. He is our hero, akin to John Hancock, to help release us.
You remember the 2008 film Hancock where Will Smith starred as a bumbling superhero? We may have chuckled a bit when hearing that term: a bumbling superhero. It seems so oxymoronic. Superheroes are supposed to be perfect, sober and virtuous. In a word: godlike. They meet Plato’s idea of the Ideal. Hancock is definitely not, and so is ours.
Charles Ramsey is a figure that runs and flies against our contemporary norms. Unconsciously, this is what we are seeking, and maybe Charles Ramsey is a valve to let us release this pressure – a pressure to perform to an unattainable standard. Thus, we are drawn to Charles hearty laugh, folksy persona and Black jargon. We are drawn to his frankness. Yes, we are drawn to him. We finally find a hero, our GI Joe who says what is on his mind; who bears his chest; and who could care less what others may think of him. He is not a devolved Neanderthal but an involved human who saw an opportunity to love beyond his comfort zone and help those resilient women out of the Castro house of horrors. So he speaks. We listen. This is what we yearn to be, but many of us are imprisoned and would like to be set free. Free to be…free to be like Charles Ramsey – our American hero!
~ Denley W. McIntosh