Sunday, February 04, 2007

Friends, Heroes, Role Models, the nature of Celebrity.

In an interview the other day I was asked, "Who are your heroes?"  I liked the question, because it really made me think.  I realized that I can't really identify a present day person I'd call a "hero."  I told the interviewer that I guess heroes are for people who live vicariously.  The general direction of my life is that I don't.
Now, as for role models, I probably have a bunch of them.  They're those people who figure out how to take something they like to do and make a living doing it.  Guys like John Bingham, who turned being a slow runner and a writer into a career.  Guys who build businesses and provide opportunities for other people.  Those are the people I have as role models.  However, having a person as a role model doesn't mean that I have to approve of everything they do in their lives.  I just want to emulate the good stuff.
"Lance Armstrong is a jerk", one of my friends told me recently.  Maybe he is.  Substitute any celebrity name for Lance's, and there are people who would say the same.  I think it's more likely that there's a contrast--between the society-idealized person who gets all the press and the flesh-and-blood person who's really not much different from the rest of us.  Famous, beautiful people still do the same stuff as the rest of us.  Their hair is messed up when they get up in the morning.  They clip their toenails.  WE put people on pedestals.  Most of them don't do it to themselves.  I know sometimes people get caught up in their own celebrity, but I think sooner or later they all come back down to earth.  So, maybe Lance isn't a jerk.  Maybe he's just a human being like the rest of us.  I'm thinking that's more likely the story.


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