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Confronting the naive psychological assumptions of American hero worship

Surprising Miss Daisy

December 4, 2014




"[He] had the fashion of calling everything 'odd' that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of 'oddities'."

from 'The Purloined Letter' by Edgar Allan Poe



It's interesting how Americans keep getting blindsided by inconsistencies in the personal behavior of celebrities: Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby.... Even Robin Williams himself would not stand the test of our moral expectations if his idolizing fans weren't determined to ignore some shady drug-related episodes of his past. Then there's the tawdry and cruel history of the personal life of the man who wrote "You Light Up My Life," which was, after all, one of the most compelling pieces of spiritually uplifting pop music ever composed.

I wonder how many more apparent moral discrepancies need to appear in our celebrities before we realize that human duplicity (or rather human moral multiplicity) is an inherent part of being Homo sapiens, and that these apparent bombshell revelations of iniquity on the part of our heroes are actually probable events that we consider extraordinary only because we have a simplistic and naive understanding of complex human psychology, a proper look at which would reveal every Jekyll to have his own Hyde -- if not a whole closet full of those ugly beggars.

Resolved, then:

Let's start loving celebrities for what they do when they're in the limelight -- while dropping the naive psychological assumption that their behavior in that arena has anything necessarily to say about their probable behavior in another, especially when that other is a realm of basic psychological needs and primal urges.

This is not a novel idea of mine, after all. Thomas Mann chided the world for this same naivety a hundred years ago.



bill cosby, michael jackson, robin williams, celebrities,behavior







Copyright 2017, Brian Quass quass@quass.com (follow on Twitter)