Why do we put celebrities on pedestals? Is it fair to them or us?
Seems to me that the second you put people on a pedestal, they become awfully hard to reach. They also get left there by many, which can lead to a lonely existence for them, and a questionable one for us. The mere act of elevating someone this way may also demean us, as we are implying they are better than us.
Just because people are on movie screens or in magazines, or selling out arenas, it hardly makes them better people. They may have better physical attributes, be better musicians, have more honed sporting abilities, be funnier, more entrepreneurial or politically minded, but they are not better than us. They, like us, are human and flawed beautifully.
NHL hockey players leave the toilet seat up, Top 40 musicians drink out of the milk container, runway models don’t clean up the kitchen, actors yell at their kids, politicians forget peoples’ birthdays, and that’s only scratching the surface.
Why do we expect perfection from celebrities when we don’t expect it from ourselves?
Why is it such a shock that a television host or professional golfer has affairs?
Why does it stay in the headlines for weeks?
The shiny penny is no more; so what?
Is it our resentment toward their flaws that fuels our interest, as we feel terribly let down? Or are we secretly happy that our heroes are just as fallible as we are, showing us that perhaps we aren’t doing so badly after all? Perhaps we don’t want them down off their pedestal, because then we wouldn’t be sure who to look up to or where to find answers.
I’m not usually the one to pull biblical references, but I feel like invoking one of the Ten Commandments. You know the one about false idols?
It is fair to have a healthy respect for someone else, for the good or interesting things they do in this world, but they are not super heroes. We are all smitten at some point, but we need to keep it real. Celebrities should be admired for what they do well; praise the act, not the person.
We know things are messed up in the world. Economy trumps environment. Finances overshadow family.
Louis CK, a comedian on Conan O’Brien, summed it up beautifully when he said, “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.”
We live in a time of plenty, but we have never navel-gazed so much.
We did what we were supposed to do. We went to school, got jobs, got married, bought houses, had two kids, and somehow it still didn’t make us happy. Our expectation was that it would.
So we started buying more stuff for a quick happiness hit. Yet this only moved us further from true happiness, and into a cluttered life.
Only a few realize that the real joy we experience is from within, radiating from the connections we make with others and the land.
So instead, we yearn for a hero, a leader to make it better. When they can’t make it better, we turn to other diversions, such as entertainment and sports and look for heroes there. We put our expectations for happiness onto them, but we need to stop.
We need to resolve not to think other people have the answers all the time. Sometimes, we have the answers. We need to trust ourselves, care for ourselves, and respect others.
If we must idolize someone, turn off the television and think no further than our mothers and fathers, nurses and doctors, firefighters, social workers, teachers, paramedics, police, and soldiers (to name a few).
I wish a fraction of the headline space that went to fallen media celebrities would go to our real-life heroes, outlining how many lives they saved, changed and touched.
Let’s appreciate (though not put on pedestals) those who have chosen a life dedicated to helping others and keeping us safe and healthy, nurturing us.
Think of all the tables where one chair was empty for Christmas dinner or a kiss didn’t happen on New Year’s Eve. Our everyday heroes were busy at work over the holidays, and hardly received a thank you. Their sacrifices are rarely acknowledged. Luckily, I can change that, and perhaps so can you. Consider a letter to the editor this year for the help you received from a community “celebrity.”
I would like to acknowledge all the heroes in my life. Thank you for caring for my family and me, especially when I was unaware that you were doing it.
Thank you for being away from your family to do so, especially over the holidays. I am indebted to you. Thank you for making our community a better place to live.
Nadine is a freelance writer who was inspired to write this article by a nurse named Margaret. Her column appears every second Wednesday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org