Heroes are not what they used to be. Everyone knows that. Everyone except Moscow. In Moscow, the decline in heroes has evidently become a national disgrace.
According to a Reuters account, Pravda has been urged to point out that heroes in the Soviet Union are becoming oblivious to their communist convictions. Pravda further points out that from now on Soviet heroes should display more fidelity to their social and patriotic duty. Furthermore, they should embody ''a firm ideological stance, political vigilance, and a reliable Marxist-Leninist arsenal,'' and thus show the evident advantages of Soviet life.
There's the whole trouble with heroes: They don't know when they are well off.
What can be done in a situation like this? The great advantages of living in the Soviet Union are apparent to everyone except Soviet heroes. Housewives, workers, artists, generals, are all happy with their lot, their government would have us believe - so why are Soviet heroes so stupid?
Evidently there is a corrupting influence somewhere that needs correcting. The entire fiction-loving public of the world can sympathize with the frustrations of Communist Party chief Yuri Andropov, or whoever is in charge of Soviet heroes these days, because if he can't come up with a James Bond, a Superman, or even a Wonder Woman, what has he got? Karl Marx on a motorcycle?
Karl Marx may have had a ''firm ideological stance'' and ''political vigilance,'' but he would be zilch in the love scenes even if he could get on and off a horse, or wear swim trunks.
Lenin would be just as bad. A flying Lenin, fighting for truth and justice and the Soviet way, complete with red cape and a big, capital ''L'' on his chest , would be a complete turkey. If Russia has turkeys.
Then there is always another problem. As soon as a satisfactory hero emerges, such as a tennis player, ballet dancer, or airplane pilot, he or she flees the Soviet Union sooner or later, political vigilance notwithstanding.
Moscow does have a problem with heroes: They tend to turn into ideological villains.