I wish I could hit a hole-in-one. Or maybe throw a ninety-seven yard touchdown pass. Or yes, this is a good one, fly over the city sans-aircraft in a spiffy spandex outfit, a big red cape, and my underwear on the outside of my pants.
Okay, maybe the hole-in-one thing is a bit far-fetched.
But what would happen if I really was some sort of hero? I’d get plenty of attention. That could be fun – for a time. I might have corporate sponsors stuffing my Thom-mobile with cash. Cool. Cash is handy. I might have lots of glamorous young ladies handing me their phone numbers. That might have been great in my single days, not so much now. Oh! And I might have thousands – millions even – of total strangers suddenly thinking that they somehow own me, that my private life is now an open page just because I’d succeeded at something at a certain level.
And then the tabloid stories would hit like midwinter snowballs at fifth-grade recess:
“Super-Awesome-Mega-Spidey-Thom Seen Leaving Food Mart with Sixteen Bags of Sugar Cookies!” (Yes, Super-Awesome-Mega-Spidey-Thom would be my superhero name – Catchy, isn’t it?)
“Super-Awesome-Mega-Spidey-Thom Seen Picking His Nose!”
“Super-Awesome-Mega-Spidey-Thom Passes Super-Run-of-the-Mouth-Natalie Girl on the Street – Are They Having an Affair?!”
And so on.
Speaking of heroes…
I haven’t addressed the Tiger Woods scandal for one reason. Well, two. One, I just don’t care. And two, everyone was already commenting on it, and commenting on it, and yet again, still commenting on it. So, why now am I tackling this beat-to-a-pulp-over-exposed-please-stop-or-I’ll-vomit issue?
Because everyone is commenting on it.
And that, my friends, is the issue at hand.
Why do we care? Young, good-looking, multimillionaire gives in to temptation. Is it good? Right? Moral? Of course not. Is it surprising? As I don’t actually know the guy, how could I answer that? Should it be news? I say no. Let his family deal with this mess in private.
Tiger Woods is a golfer. That’s it. Period. He’s not the Pope. (And it’s a good thing, because it would be awfully hard to swing a club in those multi-layered robes.) He’s not running for public office. He doesn’t even wear a cool, homemade terrycloth cape like Super-Awesome-Mega-Spidey-Thom. The public’s only real concern with Tiger should be his “public” life – on the golf course, at his charitable events, in his ever-decreasing commercial endorsements. Why do we keep thinking of these guys as role models for anything other than the skill that propelled them to fame? If you’re an aspiring golfer, great, look at Tiger as someone you’d like to emulate on the green. Go out and buy a closet full of red polo shirts. Wear a black baseball cap. Bone up on your toothy grin. But leave his personal life to his family.
Let’s be honest, the public obsession with celebrity is freakish. Really, do I ever need to hear the name Anna Nicole Smith again for as long as I live?
In fact, why was she even a celebrity to begin with?
Do I need to know that Charlie Sheen is in trouble with the law – again? Nope. I just need to decide whether or not to watch his sitcom.
Do I want to hear about Letterman’s nocturnal adventures? Please, no!
I think part of our fascination with celebrities is that it feels like we know them. We see them on TV or in the movies. We get to know their voices. Their faces are as familiar as those of our own children. In fact, I have to keep myself from packing a bag lunch for Arnold Schwarzenegger every day before I leave for work. But these people are strangers. Their public images are just that – public images. They don’t know us. We don’t know them.
Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, O.J. Simpson! None of these are on my emergency contact list. I’ve never once asked Pee-wee Herman to babysit my kids. I’m not going to hang with Charlie Sheen at the multiplex, or catch a quarter-pounder with Mel Gibson.
Just because someone is successful or well known doesn’t mean they have the moral character to be a role model. In fact, if any human being is examined close enough – any human being – flaws will be found. It’s just how we are. Imperfect. There’s some good and some flat-out lousy in all of us. In fact, Super-Awesome-Mega-Spidey-Thom has occasionally been known to drive forty-nine in a forty-five miles-per-hour zone. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone.)
There’s a line from a little-known Soul Asylum song; it says, “Heroes will never let you down, just as long as they’re dead.” Maybe a bit melancholy, but apt.
Now, about those corporate sponsorships, I’m waiting by the phone. And please hurry. These spandex tights are chilly.
Copyright 2010 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.
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