The sickening obsession with celebrities in this country is both unfathomable and inconsistent. Unfathomable because these people do nothing to make the world a better a place and inconsistent because we assign different celebrities different attributes they should embody solely based on their occupation. For example, Reese Witherspoon should be a wholesome, pure person in “real life” because young teenage girls look up to her and enjoy her on-stage portrayals. And, Ray Lewis should be an inspiration to young boys aspiring to learn life lessons from their favorite football players because of his religious overtones and humble beginnings. NO. Why? These people are entertainers at best, pawns in a celebrity crazed culture at worst. Your ability to deliver bone rattling hits to get our attention doesn’t necessitate the country listening to your stories of inspiration and motivational speaking. The recent Aaron Hernandez saga has given a unique perspective on an absurd issue in American sports culture.
The evidence is mounting against the former New England Patriots tight end. But, as we saw in the Zimmerman case, there is no point in surmising about the verdict until the case is resolved. So, for the purposes of this discussion we should analyze what his alleged involvement has done to tarnish his ascribed position as a role model. We knew next to nothing about him, his personal life, his community involvement, and so on which is perfectly fine. However, upon learning of the murder investigation, the same tale was told of how we should protect our kids from learning of actions like these and hold our athletes accountable to be better role models. That approach is so asinine. The entire perspective we should gain is simple. Athletes and celebrities are the worst role models you can imagine because we know their public identity only due to the fact that they play a sport or sing a song or act in a movie. That is meaningless. Why do we want our kids to want to do that later in their lives? They have a lot of money as a result of their jobs, so that forces us to take interest in their personal lives, religious and political views, or scorn them for going out to too many clubs? Come on. What kind of puritanesque double standard have we created?
Aaron Hernandez is a shady character. He has made judgments about who he associates with and how he handles situations in a different way than most of us would. He also catches a ball for living which is also incredibly different than most of us. Ray Lewis probably murdered or caused the death of another man a decade ago, but would that violent behavior truly surprise you from a man who made his fortune by tackling and pummeling opponents in a testosterone driven vortex of alpha males? I mean, this is ridiculous. I don’t care what happens to Hernandez and wouldn’t have a problem if he were still on the Patriots roster because it makes no logical difference. We like to watch him play football. We don’t like to watch him stand for a murder trail. So draw the line where it should be drawn.
The broader obsession with celebrity athletes that this case manifested yet again is our fault. It is easy to make the assertion that the problem is that these young, rich, and arrogant athletes are making poor judgments and creating a bad example for our kids. But, that conveniently puts the onus on them instead of us. The bad example we are setting for our kids is perpetuating the culture that allows and encourages interest in the lives of these people, these “heroes”. Because they can play a game with a ball? Because they can have their voices synthesized on auto-tune? Because they look pretty on stage? Not only should we not try to emulate these people, we should know how to separate the entertainment value they provide from who they are as people because the latter part does not matter and it really can’t be known because their persona is what we like not them. If you followed the Hernandez case and said that you are disappointed in him for setting a bad example for your kids than your kids have already been irreparably damaged by being taught to think that someone like Hernandez means anything at all in his or her life. It’s preposterous but indicative of the growing celebrity worship epidemic sweeping through American culture which has to be squashed by reason and logic which beg for us NOT TO CARE!