Meet Your Heroes

I Met One of My Favorite Writers and Lived To Keep Reading Their Work

It’s a given that America’s celebrity culture is a broken carnival. If you needed more proof, here are the 5 suggested photo groups when you do a google image search for “Celebrities.”

We prize them as trophies when they’re going to pick up awards. We think we deserve to see their baby photos. We mock them for looking any different first thing in the morning. And for some reason, a lot of people found those creepy “without teeth” photos interesting enough to reblog the hell out of.

It leads to the belief that we have a right to know everything about their private lives. We speculate on bumps and bulges on both female (Jennifer Aniston) and male (Idris Elba) bodies. Bidding wars for celebrity wedding photos are de rigueur at this point.

It’s almost bizarre that after he grew up in front of us, on the baseball diamond, we only know Derek Jeter’s exes and that rumor about gift baskets, and that his celebrity persona ends there.

We build them up to be these idealistic visions, with full intent that their downfall will be equally well documented. Their comeuppance for having achieved anything despite being as flawed as the rest of us are, you know: just like us.

It’s not a big surprise anymore to go online and discover that your favorite celebrity has a giant dealbreaker in their life. Jason Lee, Elizabeth Moss, and Giovanni Ribisi are Scientologists. Every new person that I tell those truths to goes through a very quick series of emotions, shakes their head, and moves on.

Forget You

Just as often, you find out that someone whose songs you’ve listened to countless times is a horrible person. After Cee-Lo Green, whose first solo records were damn good, went on Twitter to say it’s not rape if she’s roofied, well, to the delete key I went.

Still, though: meet your heroes. Luckily for me, I live in New York, where a lot of great writers live. I’ve made friends who are in the journalism world, whose work I idolize on a daily basis. I haven’t told them that in those terms yet, because that would make it weird.

A week ago, for what was probably the fifth time, I got to hang out with one of my blogging heroes. At the same bar, drinking beers, and enjoying the spectacle all had assembled to watch. If you spend a few hours at a bar with someone whose work you admire, who has a national reach, a funny thing can happen. Especially if they’re as incredibly nice as this person was and is, the mystique can go away, and your eyes open up.

As easy as it is to mock every “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us!” photo gallery, I think we’d all be better off if we threw away the idea that celebrity status makes the person different. It may warp the mind, and lead people down a bad path, but those circumstances may just be acting as a multiplier effect on existing — and may I add normal — character flaws.

Make it no big surprise that Cee-Lo is trash, because so many people are trash. Devalue celebrity. They may have different budgets and their own teams, but they’re just like us.

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