Farrah Fawcett, Micheal Jackson, Steve Mcnair,and now Ted Kennedy. Much has been written about the death of Kennedy(most of which makes me spew) but the best I have read so far was in The World Herald Op-Ed page here. It is a short article but you should read it before moving on. Watching the public mourn all these deaths I have had a number of thoughts.......
1. We overvalue celebrities.
The death of the three men this summer show that. All three had personal lives in shambles while considered heroes and icons in their professions.
-MJ(will not bother to comment)
-Mcnair fathered 4 children with 3 women and was killed by his mistress who then shot herself. Upon his death he was remembered as a leader in the community and one of the few black men to lead a team to the Super Bowl. These things are true but how much went unsaid. On of the biggest problems in the black community is the number of kids who grow up without the father in the home. Mcnair was not an example in this area and his off the field legacy looms large.
-The above article will you much about Kennedy. He grew up in privilege and no matter his irresponsibility his family name was always enough come press time and election day.
We live in a time with more news and pictures than any other but ironically this has produced fewer icons and more celebrities. I explain this by pointing out if I say a certain name from history we all focus on one picture(probably from Life Magazine). Marilyn Monroe(holding the dress down over the duct) or Lou Gehrig(the microphone) but not anymore. Now there are 1000 pictures of anyone famous out there to see on the web. Every politician,athlete,musician, or actor is seen so often they don't register that one image anymore. There are probably more pictures taken of Paris Hilton than anyone in America who isn't named Obama. We cheapen those who are famous so that they blend in with those who are infamous. I think of a book I read,The Beckham Experiment, where they discuss the family came to America seeking iconic status. His wife Victoria did a few TV things that bombed but she will guest host American Idol! This vanity comes from the belief that our identity is defined by who others perceive us to be. A christian response would be that our value is realized in God's image and saved by his grace. But even many non-christians teach their children that they should not live to be defined by others.
2. We don't expect or appreciate character.
The coverage of these deaths this summer showed this clearly. These men has huge issues and press seemed to separate the professional from the personal as if each man was two separate men. This is becoming common now and I think it is wrong. I find that nearly every funeral I go to the discussion is about the personal life of the mourned, not their job accomplishments. Because we don't value character anymore we don't report the absence of it.
3. I am not interested in any autographs.
I find there is no one in the world whose autograph I want. Why does a piece of paper become more value based on a signature? But as a culture we obsess in ways unimaginable. American standards for celebrities are at an all time low. On a related note so is the character of our nation.