Heroes or zeroes. Why does it have to be so binary?

Farewell brother. Hulk Hogan, my childhood hero (aside from Grimlock that is), ousted from the WWE for shitty racist remarks. Yet another dude I looked up to once in my life now proven to be less than admirable. Why so often do men in positions of power abuse said power? Can’t we have one good dude we can aspire to emulate that doesn’t get mired by crappy behaviour? Or is power too intoxicating to wield? Do we at least get to have Stephen Colbert? He seems like a decent guy and I’ve got all digits crossed that he’ll continue on as such without scandals breaking out. It’s not asking for too much, is it? Maybe it’s my dour mood brought on by the flu I’ve contracted. Fever, aches, excessive sweating, sleep deprivation and intermittent lucid thoughts have plagued me since late last night. I’ve spent the whole day in the bog my bed has become. A sweaty, swampy mass of pillows, blankets and warm moisture. I used my sick day to watch the entirety of Bojack Horseman season 2, so my thoughts are centred on the facetious culture of celebrity. I’m sure being in the public eye changes you, the pressure of always being on causing you to simultaneously feel entitlement to and reject the thoughts of those you consider beneath you. If you’re told you’re of a higher quality than everyone else enough, you’d believe it and act accordingly.

This is one of my favourite articles from the past year. I was reading it again today after thinking recently about a few things. In this day and age of instant outrage and desired accountability, we’re so quick to condemn anyone who deviates from the immaculate standards we hold for them. Dan Harmon, much as I look up to him, is a rich, privileged white alcoholic/workaholic who is known to crack the whip on a writer’s room. His sharp wit and quick temper have landed him in a shit ton of trouble. Repeatedly. Amy Schumer–progressive and uncompromisingly honest as her show Inside Amy Schumer is–oft relied on the low hanging fruit of casual racism throughout her early career. Patton Oswalt is a talented comedian who reacts swiftly and unapologetically, holding fast to his views even after he’s been proven wrong. Rumours have surfaced about Louis C.K, which I don’t want to believe, but given the recent prominent accusations that’ve been undoubtedly true, I’m gonna choose to side with the victims if they come forth.

It sucks, it really does. I’m sure we all want the people we admire to be positive role models, but it rarely seems to be the case. The above comedians I’ve highlighted have far less severe indiscretions than the criminal activity of Cosby, Allen (Woody, not Tim. Though the Tool Man did dip his nose into drug trafficking at some stage of his career) or Ghomeshi. Still, their less than ideal behaviour makes it hard to see them as figures of idolatry. Hearkening back to the above article, can we accept that our heroes are flawed? Talent isn’t predicated on the goodness of humanity and obtaining a position of power doesn’t necessitate considering the shoulders that carried you there. Is there hope for growth? I don’t want this to come out as oh woe for the poor celebrities, but I feel like the standard we hold them to is often unrealistic. If a friend of yours did something shitty, then showed remorse and made a concerted effort to be better, we’d applaud this action, right? It feels like once someone influential is crucified publicly on social media it’s game over for them. No chance for rehabilitation. Will people continue to attribute these negative aspects as prominent components of these celebrities’ personalities?

I brought this up with my girlfriend recently and she suggested Taylor Swift as a figure who’d been grilled for regressive, non-feminist behaviour. She took it as a chance to change and, while still not the bastion of feminist rhetoric, has come a long way. I think of Dan Harmon, who’d been lambasted as non-trans friendly after repeatedly using the wrong gender pronouns. He’d also admitted to a ton of shitty behaviour in regards to his wife. Being an avid listener of Harmontown, it’s emboldening to see how he’s taken it on the chin and put in the effort to improve himself. He’s been going to therapy and couple’s therapy. He still slips up every once in a while with certain social issues, but has steadily been improving in the way he navigates social issues.

I want heroes. I want to believe that the people who create the things I love can make me want to reach that high. I want to aspire to something and I’d love for someone to pave a path I’d eagerly follow. I want these expectations to not be too much to ask for.

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