Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Uh, No. Life Is Not A Game Show. (Issue #152)

I was taught that when someone (me) screwed up (got caught) and the explanation (lie) failed to win exoneration, it was time to apologize and atone. Somewhere along the road to maturity, one eventually even bypasses the attempt to fib. It's what a man does. (And yes, it's what women do too.) It's about taking responsibility for one's behaviour. Most folks of my generation clued into the concept fairly early on. My own learning was aided and abetted by periodic whacks from nuns and other teachers.

But let's leave the sepia-toned memories of whip-wielding nuns for a moment and flash forward to today.

These days, on a near-weekly basis, we're confronted with pop musicians, athletes and movie stars who do Very Bad Things and then apologize. But they don't really apologize. Instead, they go into damage-control mode as orchestrated by well-paid advisors - advisors who are desperate to rehabilitate the image of their meal ticket. And these advisors are all singing from the same songbook. It doesn't matter if it's Britney, Lindsay, Michael Vick or any of dozens of others - the refrain is similar:

"I made a wrong choice. I hope to make better choices going forward.*"

Well.

Isn't. That. Special.

They made a wrong choice. They would like us to believe it could happen to anyone. If only they had chosen Door #1 because behind it was Reasonable Behaviour! Oh, and look! Behind the curtain that the lovely Doreen is now parting...it's...it's a Heaping Helping of Personal Responsibility coupled with a Smidge of Social Conscience!

But Nooooooooooooo! They had to choose Door #3 and got How To Drive Drunk, Flash Your Crotch, Insult Gays and Kill Dogs. What a bummer.

Woe is them. They made a wrong choice.

Nuh-uh. No sale here. They were selfish, inconsiderate a**holes, at the very least. But I'll admit they didn't get that way by themselves. The wrong choices were made years earlier. By parents. By indifferent schools. By substituting money for caring, presents for companionship. By being raised in a society which values celebrity over all.

As much as their behaviour appalls, I honestly feel sorry for most of these people, many of whom are little more than kids. Values like respect, honesty, dignity and compassion, instead of being ingrained by the time they hit their teens, remain abstract concepts. They can mouth the words, as taught by their agents, managers and lawyers, and they can learn that downcast eyes and a tremulous voice mimics contrition -- but in their heart of hearts, I think most of them just don't get it and probably never will. As long as they have money and flashbulbs going off in their faces, they'll have simpering sycophants whispering about how wonderful they are. And they'll believe them.

Because to do otherwise is to admit there's an emptiness inside that can't be filled with money, red carpets, screaming fans and high-fives. And then what do they have to turn to?

Oh yeah. Drugs, alcohol and brushes with the law.

And so it goes.

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* This is my nominee for the phrase of the year that MUST be obliterated, expunged, erased from the lexicon. If you hear or read it, you can be reasonably sure the user is trying to sell you a line of something that is better spread on farmer's fields.

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More nice cottage pics at Hilary's blog.

13 comments:

Hilary said...

Depressing but true. They can't learn without real consequences. Great post.

And thanks for the mention... again. :)

Elizabeth Guy said...

Amen, Frank.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks and you're welcome Hilary. :)

Thanks for the backup Elizabeth. :)

Bibi said...

... and I think David Letterman agrees. I just saw a video of his show interviewing Paris Hilton and he really upset her. She kept saying she was there to talk about 'her new perfume and clothing line' not jail. Tough!

Bernita said...

Frank, I so agree.

Frank Baron said...

Bibi, Dave has never suffered fools gladly. (I like him.)

Bernita, I'm glad to hear it. Thanks.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Bravo! You are so right on so many levels. It's good to know that you, too, were brought up with the old fashion values. If only everyone conductedt themselves with respect, honesty, dignity and compassion, this world would be a much, much better place. Great post!

Stace said...

I've given up even reading about celebs. Who cares? I don't even feel strongly enough about it to call this a "boycott", it's just a "stopped paying attention" thing.

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Jo. :)

If everybody was like you Stace, the cult of celebrity would be dealt a death blow. If only.... :)

Stace said...

I remember my mum once telling me that she read an article in a gossip magazine about a popular Australian newsreader of the time, and how she was tragically losing her sight due to some rare eye disease or something... then years later mum saw the woman interviewed on TV and she mentioned that article and the fact that it was complete bunkum. The magazine had literally just made it up, there was not a grain of truth in it! Aidan reckons the magazines just grab a few photos of a celeb and make up a story to fit around them. Sounds about right to me!

Frank Baron said...

That's exactly what many of those tabloids do Stace. It's not new either. When I studied Journalism at university in the early 70s, we spend a week or so studying them. Of course, there's 10X as many on the stands these days.

Iron-Man said...

What about Marion Jones and other athletes who get caught cheating after many years of denying they cheat? Let's face it, nobody gets tested every day, so the odds of catching an athlete doping are very slim, yet they will fight it like wolverines when they get caught, and blame everyone but themselves.

What happened to the old days when athletes used to be the most honest people around? Hard work, effort, determination, dedication, etc., was why athletes have always been admired. unfortunately, now they seem to be about agents, money, lawyers, and public relations.

Frank Baron said...

iron-man, I feel your pain, and echo it.

Where are the Terry Foxes, the Jean Beliveaus and the Hank Aarons?

The "Winning Is Everything" credo, espoused by professional sport, has filtered into amateur sport in a big way. (Not a good way - a big way.)

And it's. Just.

Plain.

Wrong.

(Emphasis mine.)

Thanks for stopping by.

By the way, for any of you who actually keep tabs on what's happening here -- my computer has been in the shop for most of the last 10 days and I haven't written squat.

On the plus side - I can see the floor of my laundry room.

Most of it....