I read Time magazine. I know, I know, it is not the high minded reading that you expect from someone with such obviously brilliant writing chops. But it is the dessert at the end of the week that is nothing less than a mental guilty pleasure. This may come across as a rationalization for poor behavior on my part. But lets try and get to the point....
In the past several weeks, a couple of very well known people have graced the cover of Time magazine. One was a severely dysfunctional dancer/singer that entertained millions with his God-given abilities. He was as popular for the bizarre nature of his lifestyle as he was for his musical performances. He never had any privacy and his life was a train wreck, full of enablers, drug habits, and emptiness.
The second guy to grace Time's cover was the ultimate politician. Born into riches and pedigree, the expectations upon his life were never in his control. Although he was influential and powerful, he never grasped that final rung of the country's highest office, and so, with his death, his life is commonly being portrayed as a destiny unfulfilled. He never had any privacy and his life was a train wreck, full of enablers, drug habits, and emptiness.
And as I have learned more about these two individuals, I have wondered about the allure of fame and our culture's obsession with celebrity. We seem to have completely disregarded the importance of character in those we idolize. There is an insatiable appetite for information about people we are not associated with in any shape or form. And I question if we would even like the celebrities we worship if we knew them personally.
Evaluating their lives through the lens of their deaths, it seems to me that the cost of popularity far outweighs the benefits. Disappointment and chemical dependency seem to be the theme in most celebrity stories. And I wonder if most well known people would trade all of the recognition they receive for just a few years of anonymity and peace.
Oh, yeah, and by the way: I love you.