I first was introduced to the concept of the working class hero from a friend in one of my Computer Science classes. He said that all his heroes are working class heroes. It's actually a thing -- even Green Day has a song about the working class hero. Yet what does it mean to be a working class hero? The myth comes from the notion that one can achieve anything through hard work regardless of relations or personal ethical code. Greg House from House M.D. is the ideal model.
From one episode to the next, House topples obstacles with his sheer willpower and talent regardless how poorly he treats people, how disordered his life is, and how he constantly cuts corners and breaks rules. The writers depict a compelling character -- dependent on his prescriptions and his reputation, vulnerable to nothing other than perhaps an obsessive detective who reminds the literate of Victor Hugo's Inspector Javert. House is hardworking. We know this because that's all he does -- work. Few times the audience catch him lounging -- but this is a facade. He's actually thinking. Always thinking about his work. And it works. If it works -- we forgive House of all his vices.
But should we forgive? Well -- if he does well, why not, right? But if Wilson were to have such vices -- we'd find it off-putting, because Dr. Wilson doesn't get everything quite right as House does. Even when House is wrong -- he's normally right, if he's not detoxing. Because you see, House is just better, and he needs to be dependent on those prescriptions to do well.
Despite his "good" qualities -- of saving lives and what-not -- House needs space to glow and expand. Because if he weren't able to -- no one would save those poor people. But do we know that's the case?
What would happen if House didn't have his special department? He may have more patients, less time to dedicate so much time towards each individual, and would be punished for his dependency. He wouldn't have a team to run three different tests at once, and he'd be stuck picking one test and trying it. If he didn't pick the right test, he'd still have to do the two others before he could rule them out as he so often does. But let's say that not all doctors operate this way. Instead he just goes with a diagnosis and runs with it. Would his track record be worse?
Speculation makes us say, "Meh." It's good that our fictional economy allows us to loosely use our resources in a way that his department can exist. And it's good -- yes, that he is able to train more doctors to think outside the paradigm and develop interesting a diagnosis to interesting problems.
And so it's not really a question of if we should forgive House for his dependency and bad behavior -- it's that if we want to believe that the only way to cure the minority of incurable patients is to dedicate a special department of creative doctors and researchers who can, we MUST forgive House.
If we choose to not buy in -- we must come up with new ways of saving people. Perhaps better doctors? But who will teach these doctors? You say -- House! And yes, in this world, House should continue being himself and teaching the doctors of the future who will hopefully teach more doctors.
But perhaps it's not that we need doctors like House to teach our doctors but teachers like House to teach our students before they become doctors who need a leader like House to unlearn what they were systematically taught.