BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR HEROES
I can imagine what you’re thinking while you’re looking at this picture…
Rather than think that, look at my face. I can tell you exactly what I was thinking at that moment….this was one of the greatest moments of my life.
He was the man who showed me how cool it was to make people laugh. As a kid, I had memorized his best selling comedy albums… every word, every routine. For some reason, it would not be until decades later that I finally saw him perform in person. I would go to work at the television station the next day raving about what a master he still is, only to learn that he had visited the station himself the day before, when I had a day oﬀ, and missed out on his joking with the entire newsroom, not to mention an interview. I was crushed beyond belief, thinking it was an opportunity lost. But, a few years and a couple of performances later, my wish came true during a post show meet and greet session. I told him how much I admired him and how much this moment meant to me. He seemed genuinely touched, along with being charming and funny. I walked out of the theatre and back to our car. It was dark at that point, but there was a beam and glow on my face that no one could dim.
Now, it’s a picture I have a hard time looking at. That glow is not only
dimmed but snuﬀed out. As the allegations continued, the trials progressed and the verdict was reached, I had a hard time processing it all. How could this man, with his gifts and his accomplishments, think he could act like this? Looking at this now doesn’t quite bring on anger so much as disappointment. But is it disappointment in him or myself? We have all been told to be careful who we choose as heroes, for they will eventually disappoint us. Yet we cant help by admire someone for their work, accomplishments or character. Its when we think they can do nothing wrong that gets us into trouble. True, the allegations against this man started many years ago, but I seemed to ignore them because, to me anyway, his talent and legacy was solid enough, right?
No, it wasn’t. That is now tarnished forever, and he has no one to blame but himself
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote ‘Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.’ I keep thinking how many more pictures are out there he’s taken with others that admired him as I did. For that matter, how many selfies and poses do people have with someone like Louis CK or Kevin Spacey? It seems every Hollywood A lister has to explain away a photograph taken with Harvey Weinstein. Disgraced artists, musicians, politicians, celebrities….at one point, everyone wanted to be either seen with them, or be like them. What makes us put these people on pedestals, only to learn that they have flaws? And once we find out they are imperfect, can we separate what they’ve done from the person they are?
My guess is that we won’t stop doing it nor bemoaning celebrity worship. Nor should we stop admiring anyone who inspires us or does something that makes us feel better about the world or ourselves. Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography ‘We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes’
Less heroes may not be the answer, but maybe more self satisfaction and admiration is.