Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fame burns your brain

What is it about celebrity which makes people insane? Is it the lack of privacy which causes them to go around the bend? Is it that there are too many sycophants and not enough sensible moms? How can ordinary people be turned into such stupid, selfish, thoughtless, dangerous creatures?

From Orenthal J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Phil Spector (not to mention half of Congress and most of the members of Illinois’ bodies of government) who managed to place themselves above the law, to Barry Manilow, Sally Field, Rosie O’Donnell and the Airhead Squadron of Hollywood (Britney, Lindsey, Paris, et al) who lack basic decency, the link is lack of common, everyday manners. Apparently, “common” is beneath them.

I don’t suppose it would ever occur to an artist of such stature as Barry Manilow that, when he’s promoting a newly-released recording, insulting a pretty young pregnant woman by refusing to appear on the same show with her is not only rude, but counterproductive to sales? And, Sally Field might not consider using profanity on television anything new or corrosive to culture, but there are plenty out in the real world who find the term “damned”, when attached to the end of a brief word for “deity” to be more offensive than monosyllabic scatological references, any day of the week. A network has the right to decide it doesn’t want to alienate its very large viewing audience by broadcasting obscenities in the middle of a family program (although, that was a rare occurrence, that it did).

Now, of course, there is a standard view from the elite that the masses don’t know what’s good for them, so they’ll demonstrate by being flippant about things of import to the rest of us -- James Brolin, for example, wishing a “Happy nine-eleven” to America -- and then waiting a day or two before offering an “I’m sorry if you were offended,” apology to the shocked masses. They’ll call our most trusted, loyal, patriotic people liars -- boldly, to their faces, in front of the cameras, the way Hillary did General Petraeus (“suspension of disbelief” my Aunt Frances! Has she looked in a mirror this past two decades?).

I don’t mean to slight the Right, either. Larry Craig, in hope of dodging an arrest, reportedly asked, “Do you know who I am? I’m a Senator!” As if that were going to strike the fear of the Lord into a cop who ... well, let’s face it, the sting was essentially official, legal extortion, wasn’t it? Cop a plea, pay a fine, or we’ll tell the world you are gay, whether you are or not. And, then, even if you take the plea and pay the fine,we’ll still intimate you’re gay later on if we’re in the mood and you’re in the public eye.

Nevertheless, Craig thought that simply by declaring his rank, he could bypass the legal system designed to be egalitarian.

It’s too bad stupidity doesn’t automatically disqualify one from holding public office (by my reckoning, it’s a prerequisite for the job). Craig fell into the same trap that so many others inside the Beltway and out in front of the cameras have done, and thought himself untouchable.

Unfortunately for society, it looks as though they may be correct. Breaking major laws -- like murdering your ex-wife, a girlfriend or some other human being, like driving drunk and endangering the public, like giving support to dangerous enemies of the public -- all are forgiven, if you’re rich and famous. Granted, the presiding judge in the bail hearing for O.J. Simpson was right on the money when he refused to allow the former athlete to be released on his own recognizance. The judge even cited law to support his decision. How refreshing! I doubt it will last, though, once the case goes to a jury.

Too many regular folks out there think, like the celebrities, that if one becomes famous, then “beyond reasonable doubt” should read “beyond all doubt whatever.” If the defense claims he didn’t shoot the girl, that it was metal-munching moon mice who did, the jury will look into that famous face and say, “It could happen. After all, he’s famous enough to attract moon mice. And, besides, when I'm famous, this could happen to me, so I should cut him extra slack."

And thus the famous can continue as infamous, still free to be scummy, in a very public manner.

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