Where have all the real heroes gone?

Hero worship is all well and good, but exactly what is one these days?

Oh Justin, I ain't no true Belieber. But when you post such moving messages of hope and inspiration on your Twitter feed, for a fleeting moment I wanna be.

Recently, on the same day you were arrested for allegedly drink-driving and drag-racing in your yellow Lamborghini, you found the time to tweet this to your 49 million followers:


On the same day, you smiled prettily for a mug shot and emerged from jail with your personal entourage (and some correctional officers). Then, in a poignant moment, you jumped on the roof of an SUV to wave to fans.

That giving attitude is why you're some kinda hero. But, J-Beebs, it got me wondering ... have heroes always been like you?

In the case of Bradman, Oppy, The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe or Simpson and his donkey, was it not so much about the deeds and more that we wanted someone – anyone – to revere?

What even makes a hero? Is it courage in the face of adversity, or rare and special talent? Or is having your own 24/7 reality TV existence plus a great arse now enough? And really, is there even any point having heroes or heroines when so many fall from grace?

Let's ask that good-looking Lance Armstrong, who was once engaged to singer Sheryl Crow, pedalled up big hills and conquered cancer and the Tour de France in the process. The op shops certainly seem very keen to stock his books now.

Or Tiger Woods – such a fresh face and oh, so many (female) fans. Who wouldn't admire him for getting his golf game back on track after that nasty wife lashed out with those golf clubs outside their house?

Cricket's always been a hotbed of heroes here in the sunburnt, sports-mad country. Former Australian cricketer David Boon became an even larger hero – pardon the pun - than he already was when he allegedly downed 52 cans of beer on a Sydney to London flight in 1989. His cult status was such that VB later created a talking “Boonie” figurine in a controversial marketing campaign.

Then there's Warnie. Where do you start? Apart from being a champion cricketer, he's also broken text messaging records and been so, so unafraid to love.

At least we've got Brett Lee – who has remained loyal to his long-time hairstyle and is idolised in India for both his on-field cricket prowess and his burgeoning pop star talents.

Perhaps the tennis players, then. For mine, anyone with an arena named after them – Rod Laver, Margaret Court – has made the hero cut.

Pat Rafter was my hero even before he agreed to those enlightening Bonds TV ads, while Roger Federer must surely be the nicest bloke in the world.

Entrepreneurs are certainly considered very sexy these days, and perhaps we have veteran Richard Branson to thank. Judging by the number of airline attendants that still want to cavort with him in promotional photos (all voluntarily I'm sure), the ever-grinning English chap has still got it on the hero front. Who amongst us hasn't read a copy of Losing My Virginity? I think I accidentally bought it twice.

Then there are those heroes who I just wished had thought a little bit more carefully before they plunged back into public life.

Although the pun is splendid, I preferred seeing Stephanie Rice win Olympic gold, than promoting a brand of rice. Dawn Fraser, one of Australia's greatest heroines, might have been better off steering clear of reality TV. Though it must be duly noted that even ex-champions need to earn a crust.

That poor Mel Gibson has had a hard time finding mass popularity again, hasn't he? A few anti-Semitic remarks and some vitriolic comments to the mother of one of your children, and all you get is grief.

But the riskiest kind of hero worship must surely be when idols start idolising each other.

Just because you had posters of your movie idol in your room as a child does not mean you should later marry them, Katie Holmes. Oprah should have warned you.

But back to you, Biebernator. It seems your little antics didn't win over all your fans, including eight-year-old Serafina, of Ohio, who had the following to say in a letter to you.

“Dear Justin Bieber,

I'm very disappointed. It breaks my heart that you were in jail for just one night. I loved most of your songs. I dance to them a lot,” she wrote.

She goes on: “What made you do it? Didn't you know it was a bad thing to do?

“My whole life I have been warned about drugs! And now my idol has started taking them! There are many drunk people in the world and you have become one of them.

“I think you should be disappointed in yourself. Just take a minute to think about what you did.”

And that, el Biebo, is how you go from hero to zero. Take heed.