I feel uneasy enjoying Chris Brown’s music. I’ve never watched a Roman Polanski film. Although he’s “done his time”, I still think Michael Vick is a jerk who abused animals. And speaking of Michaels, I feel icky listening to Michael Jackson songs. I’ll never forget when my mom said, amidst one of the scandals during which he was accused of molesting children, that (despite the accusations) he was a great entertainer. Coming from my mom, this was a shocking statement. She has since denied ever saying such a thing and, in her defense, it was allegedly made during my heavily-medicated recovery from major jaw surgery. Nevertheless, there are millions of people (okay, that’s not fact-checked but I’m sure it’s more or less accurate) who love MJ’s music and legitimately mourned his death.
In the wake of the Ray Rice saga – particularly in light of women wearing his jersey in support of him – I’ve been thinking a lot about why we continue to worship, or at least accept or tolerate celebrities who are horrible people. And by “celebrity”, I don’t mean disgusting people like the Kardashians who are famous for nothing more than being disgusting. I mean people who have some sort of talent. And by “talent”, I don’t mean effing Brandy’s little brother on camera. Anyways, is there a distinction between a person’s self and their talent? A distinction so sharp that we can enjoy their talent without tacitly accepting or approving their bad behavior? Would we have any celebrities left to entertain us if we held them to some moral standard? Probably not, I guess. We know a lot more about celebrities’ personal lives than we used to, but just imagine what sorts of behavior celebrities engaged in before the rise of (or, I shudder to say, unbeknownst to) TMZ.
I stumbled across one of those click bait articles awhile back that listed a handful of celebrities we honor these days that have questionable pasts. Have you ever heard that Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame kept a teenage girl that he basically kidnapped from a concert captive in his home for years? Or that Sean Penn tied up Madonna and beat her over the course of several hours when they were married?
If true, would any of these things change your decision(s) about what movies to watch, what musicians to enjoy, or what sports teams to follow? Or about what celebrities you introduce to your children?