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GRE ISSUE: It Is No Longer Possible For A Society To Regard Any Living Man Or Woman As A Hero - With A Free Essay Review

Prompt: “Claim: It is no longer possible for a society to regard any living man or woman as a hero. Reason: The reputation of anyone who is subjected to media scrutiny will eventually be diminished. Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.”

Heroes are still needed in this world and could be easily found in our life, though the reputation of many formerly-regarded heroes has been marred due to mass media's scrutiny.

It is understood that with the development and massive uses of mass media, heroes have been scrutinized more severely than ever before, and therefore, some inconvenient or ugly truths about these heroes that the mass media have revealed make it harder for people to regard anyone as a hero. The mass media could make information that was unknown before easily accessible now. People could know a person better and find more information about someone with the help of media, which is also responsible for some heroes' fall. For example, the authenticity of the Chinese hero Lei Feng has been widely questioned on the Internet. Lei Feng was a Chinese soldier during the 1960s. He was characterized as a selfless and modest person. After his death, his personal diary, which was full of explicit details of his good deeds, including the amount of money he donated, the names of people who he had helped before, was published and could be bought almost in every bookstore in the mainland China. He become a national hero and model from then. His name has become a synonym for anyone who would help others, or anyone who would sacrifice themselves to save other people's lives.

However, the existing and authenticity of this household name has been widely questioned by Chinese netizens thanks to the mass media's scrutiny. Some journalists wrote reports saying that it was impossible for a soldier whose salary was 8 Yuan per month to make donations worth thousands at that time. Some scholars also pointed out that the fact that every time when Lei was helping other people, there was always a professional photographer to take hundreds of pictures for him belies the authenticity of his stories, given that most Chinese could not even afford to take one picture in 1960s. And then more and more people have tweeted their opinions about this issue on the Sina Weibo, Twitter's Chinese counterpart. Many netizens believe Lei was fabricated by the government for political gains. Some sociologists predict that the era of fabricating heroes for propaganda is over and the mass media's scrutiny make it impossible for forged heroes to survive.

On the other hand, thanks to the mass media, many moving stories have been covered and many great heroes have been redefined, recognized and remembered. For example, there is a web site named 9-11heroes. It is a memoir for people who lost their life on September 11th, 2001, and their stories. On the front page of this web site, it says the following: We remember the fallen firefighters, policemen, rescue workers and all the common people who helped others on the attack sites during the actual disaster days, and who helped to clean up in the aftermath of 9-11-01. Some of them accomplished some truly heroic tasks and deserve to be called heroes. People shared their personal stories and encounters with heroes on this web site. In this case, the definition of hero has broaden thanks to the mass media's coverages. And some newspapers reported that some of these heroes had done many good things before 9-11. Perhaps, some heroes in old days remain unknown due to the lack of information communication. But today, their encouraging stories could be simply found everywhere through various channels, such as the television and other social networking web sites. At some point, the media does help a lot for us to find our heroes and give people chances to appreciate them.

Besides, it is good and necessary for us to regard someone as heroes with the help of media. People can learn a lot from these great models. According to a PEW study, in the aftermath of 9-11, 19 million Americans sended e-mails to their loved ones. The tragedy and sorrow has made people closer, the braveness and unselfishness of firefighters, rescuers and other heroes have united a nation.

In summary, the mass media has made heroes more accessible and available in our daily life. The media helps a lot discerning the forged or fabricated heroes. And the others who survived this callous scrutiny deserve our heartfelt respect and appreciation .



You make two reasonable claims here, but your lengthy examples get in the way of elaborating those claims fully and so of addressing the prompt adequately. You devote about three full paragraphs to the task of illustration by example; you devote very little to actual analysis or argument. You need to prioritize the analysis, and cut back substantially on the illustration.

You are being asked to discuss a claim and the reason offered in support of it. That’s what you need to do. It is fine to illustrate your own views with brief examples, but what you really want to do is interrogate the original claim and its presuppositions. The “reason” offered in support of the original claim is that “the reputation of anyone who is subjected to media scrutiny will eventually be diminished.” Is that true - is it true that anyone’s reputation will be diminished under scrutiny? If it is true, does it matter? Does it follow that one cannot be a hero if one’s reputation has been diminished by the media? Is a hero necessarily irreproachable? Is society capable of caring about the scandals of its heroes for longer than five minutes? Might it be that the very proliferation of scandals or revelations deadens the impact of such revelations both because our attention span has shortened and our curiosity has been too much sated?

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: bepazhu

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