Day 199. Simply Awful

“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy”. F. Scott Fitzgerald

So true. Unfortunately. I have to say I am really saddened by the news, or what we know of it, about Oscar Pistorius. Far be it from me to try and convict him clay feetwithout knowing all the facts, but you’ve got to admit, it’s not looking very good.

Even if it was an honest mistake, it’s still a horrific event. A young woman lost her life needlessly. And a young man who overcame so much, and become so victorious, has also lost much. The respect and adoration of millions; and, almost certainly, his future.

Regardless of the judge’s verdict his life, and the lives of many others, will never be the same again.

Can you believe it? I can’t.

One minute he was the world’s first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics in London, in 2012, followed by a gold medal win and a new record set in the 2012 Paralympics. And the next, he was being

arrested for the brutal murder of his girlfriend.

Another O.J. Simpson.

Sometimes I wonder if we’re partly to blame, for the downfall of so many of these individuals we worship. Which is precisely the crux of the matter, I think. The degree to which we worship these people. We put them up on pedestals so high, we make it damn near impossible for them to live up to our expectations. Or even their own. And then we’re upset when we discover they have feet of clay.

Which they inevitably do. Which, under the circumstances, isn’t really surprising. We treat them as if they are super human, immune to the foibles the rest of us mere mortals succumb to.

Until they do.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am neither defending his behaviour or actions, or deflecting the blame. But I do wonder, what compels us to idolize celebrities and athletes the way we do. I’m just asking, “Why do we do it?”

Neither am I underestimating all that Oscar Pistorius has accomplished. I sat, in front of my TV, in absolute awe, sobbing as he crossed the finish line. But people overcome challenges and adversity every day, in every corner of the world. Most of it, unnoticed.

We did the same with Tiger Woods. And, until our noses were rubbed in the truth, we refused to believe he could have, or would have, cheated on his beautiful young wife. Same with Lance Armstrong. Until the facts could no longer be denied, until he finally couldn’t deny them any longer, we refused to believe he was guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs. That he’d be willing to sacrifice his team members and an entire sport, to save his own sorry ass.

And I’ll bet there are still those who’d gladly turn the other cheek, and ignore all our disgraced heroes have done. I’ll bet they’d put them right back up there on those pedestals, no matter how many times they toppled off.


I don’t get it. What is it about setting records and winning races and tournaments and singing in bands and starring in films and winning awards that causes us to take total leave of our senses? Of course we do the same thing with performers and actors. If we didn’t, no one would be glued to their television sets, watching all the Red Carpet shows.

Something is terribly wrong with our value system. Accomplishment should always be acknowledged. Admiration is a good thing. But we’re taking it too far, I think. And perhaps it’s also time for those we’ve worshipped to stop believing their own P.R. To realize they’re not above it all. They’re not above the law.

They won’t get away with murder.

20 thoughts on “Day 199. Simply Awful

  1. I think, part of the problem Fransi, is that we unfortunately live in a competitive society. Bigger, better, more… equates success. Mine are the unsung heroes. Every day people, living, loving, and serving their fellows, in whatever capacity they can.

    • Mine too. And I also applaud the talent and skill and determination and commitment of the well known. I just don’t worship at their alters. They’re human beings like the rest of us, not Gods.

  2. I agree. For instance the way young girls idolise One Direction? Or even worse, Justin Bieber. There was that #cutforbieber crazy on twitter, with fans cutting themselves after he was photographed smoking what looked like a joint. Fanaticism is going waaay too far.

      • I can’t either. But I think it’s a shame he can’t explore and experiment as most teens do – not that I’m advocating drugs, just his right to try new things out without worrying about thousands of teenage girls around the world slitting their wrists over it? Bit of an overreaction really.

  3. Whether or not this is a circumstance of public persona being a different one than private, I think the public has a tendency to project unrealistic hopes and expectations on people when we only see the sliver of public persona. It’s called BIRGing. (Basking in reflected glory). Public figures are often regular people who have a portion of themselves where they excel. In other areas, they are often very wounded because many have an unhealthy external locus of identity where their worth is based on an unrealistic desire for praise rather than self respect. That can magnify real issues that would otherwise lay dormant because the more it is fed, the more it convicts them internally of their own perceived “fraud status” and the more they feel driven to hide the truth while violating the trust in ways such as athletes taking steroids, etc.

    While I am not sure we can eliminate all that, I think it is also irresponsible to feed it – especially by people who should know better. In my opinion an example of exploiting people with an unhealthy external locus of identity was the T.V. show celebrity rehab. Mindy McCready is the fifth person to die in the past two years. Making their illness a public spectacle was reinforcing the destructive behavior in those types of personalities, not resolving it.

    • I have never watched that show and while I am, by no means an expert, what you’ve talked about makes perfect sense to me. I think we all need to get a grip. We are far too focussed on ‘celebrity’. We treat them as if they are Gods. They begin to believe it. And we measure our worth, and the worth of others, on all the wrong things.

  4. OMG. Fran, I didn’t even know this. I have been trying to avoid the news for the past several months trying to avoid how depressing it all is. That’s horrible!!! So sad. I guess I have been doing all right avoiding. Haha!

      • Well, the news is nothing but the bad that does on in the world. It’s so in your face 24/7 it isn’t worth it. Too bad they don’t report all the good. I went into a depression in December/January and decided to start focusing on my family life and my photography instead. It’s not like I have control over external forces, you know? I’m choosing to be happy. Trying anyway. The news sucks.

  5. You stated it very well. We worship them as gods. And gods they are not, and can never be. Invariably, they will topple. My son is ‘popular’. He tells me how stressful it is to always be looked at, copied, listened to. He is terrified of making a mistake. He is in his own prison that he partly created. But he stays there because he, like many, strive to be the King of the Mountain. It’s lonely at the top, I think. I have never made it to the first rung, and I am free and content with my station. But I think my attitude is in the minority, and definitely not part of the American Dream (or Canadian Dream either I suspect 🙂 )

    • I’m not sure it’s the American or Canadian dream per say. This goes beyond wanting to succeed. I think this is about winning at all costs. Really losing control and reason. Never being satisfied. Becoming obsessive.

      If your son doesn’t really like all the attention he gets I’d say he does not suffer from this affliction. Happily.

  6. As soon as I heard this, my first thought was that this young man has bad karma, and that this second impulsive action has sent him into a much deeper and more tragic place than that first impulsive act we became aware of did.

    I’m referring to his ‘bad sport’ comment made against another athlete after he came second in the men’s 200m at the Para-Olympics, it was very bad publicity for him as the media had made such a star out of him previously, it just showed how human and prone to flaws he is – and it also exhibited his ‘acting without thinking’ streak, that impulsive spontaneity that can crush another person with words or even kill another person should he have access to a weapon. as such, I think he is a risk to himself, because he sets such high expectations for himself and has a destructive streak.

    Even when they turn out to be flawed or not what we perceive them to be (such as Lance Armstrong) I can’t help but feel that even it is all an illusion, if people are inspired in a positive way to achieve something positive in their own lives, at that moment when they see someone else attain an almost impossible goal, then that is a good thing, but we should just take their example in that moment and use it as inspiration, not idolise the person or treat them as perfection. Seeing these people make mistakes is another of life’s lessons, one of caution and warning not to put people on pedestals as you say.

    • You’re right. About all of it. Events like these are tragic on so many levels. These two are not just athletes. One had to fight cancer at the same time as he was setting athletic records; and the other one would not have been expected to walk, let alone run, let alone set records. So both set so many examples, for so many. Gave us so much to aspire to, ourselves. Their athletic prowess is one thing. But when you add the personal health challenges they had to overcome, as well. My God! It is very, very sad.

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