Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dark Side of Idol Worship

The recent death of Michael Jackson, and the aftermath, really opened my eyes to a dual condition many of us have: the need to idolize other human beings for their talents, looks, wealth, etc., and the tendency to tear down these people at the same time. I don’t envy anyone who has been on the receiving end of this, because I can’t think of anyone who has fared well as a result. Diana, the Princess of Wales, was one of those people who was relentlessly stalked and harassed until her untimely death in 1997. In the months before the tragic accident, I distinctly remember seeing the sensational headlines and intrusive photographs of Diana on vacation in the south of France, all while waiting on line in the local convenience store. I was thoroughly disgusted by the nerve of the professional stalkers (aka the paparazzi) and hoped that significant changes would be made to regulate their activities afterward; I was wrong.

Michael Jackson, like Diana, was hounded by the media until his sudden death. His fans around the world continued to adore him beyond reason, while his critics demonized him for being charged with sexual molestation of young boys. When Jackson died, television news shows captured scenes of the inconsolable and the curious all around the world. His public memorial in Los Angeles, California was lavish enough to suit his title as “The King of Pop.” While it is unfortunate that he died at the mere age of 50, I choose to remember him as a person who had exceptional musical talents. Yes, he also helped many charities with his financial resources and considerable clout as a celebrity. However, no one has ever done more for the economically and socially disadvantaged than Mother Teresa, who died the same year as Diana, Princess of Wales. While I understand the interest in celebrities to a certain extent, I will never condone the frenzied hero worship our society is guilty of.

Why do admiration and idolization go hand in hand, in many cases? Why do we relish our idols’ destruction at the same time?

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