Look: he's just a horse. Sure, he was a horse that strangely proportioned little men rode in circles, whipping maniacally while I tore up a six dollar Preakness ticket, but in the end: just a horse. With less developed leg muscles, he would have been in a can of Alpo or a bottle of Elmers. Let's not go crazy.
But, wait: we already have. I've seen pictures of people weeping for this animal, crying like they were sitting through a Schindler's List/ Life Is Beatiful double feature. The always drab Associated Press claimed the "ordeal" Barbaro went through (a broken leg) "made him even more of a hero than he was as an undefeated Derby winner." And look, I don't want to sound callous, but, seriously: he was a horse. And he wasn't even a fancy, talking horse. He wasn't Black Beauty or Flicka or that pony from that Dakota Fanning movie we gagged through one morning last tour. Also: not a unicorn (for the record, I'd cry for a dead unicorn).
Don't we think the word "hero" should be reserved for, well, people that deserve it? Note, that was "people" not mammals. (Also, no offense meant to the thoroughly heroic lizards and mollusks of the world). Heroes are great men and women who defied the status quo, who championed useful change, who made universe altering discoveries, who played Doc Holiday in Tombstone, not a horse with a funny name.
Americans are fairly gifted at blowing things out of proportion, you know. The French disagree with a war and suddenly, I'm eating Freedom Onion Soup. Some vaguely talented twenty-something who spent her high school afternoons singing Fiddler on the Roof to the mirror is suddenly selling nine millions albums a week because of text messaging, a snarky British guy, and the woman who sang "Cold Hearted Snake."
We need to relax. We need to keep repeating our mantra: he's just a horse. And likewise: it's just some soup; it's only Kelly Clarkson. Let's save the emotional outbursts, the fanatical ire, and the wholesale adoration for things and folks that actually deserve it. Like your friends and family. Or the guy who plays Ernest. You know, the important stuff.