There’s an important message in here somewhere, I swear. It has to do with idols and heroes, gold-medal winners, parents, best friends, political figures, cult leaders, Athenian demi-gods, fishermen, athletes, literary and religious figures, media personalities, and us.
There’s an important message in here somewhere, I swear. It has to do with saviors, perception and perfection, idolatry, empathy, aspiration, belief, attainment, dishonest deities, hyperbole, intrigue, bullshit and truth, false idols, propagandists, and sheep.
What is it that is so ingrained in this society of ours, that the only thing we enjoy more than building someone up is tearing them down? How many expectations need to be unmet? How are we still naïve? Children are lying in classrooms with faces shredded from the assault rifles of socially isolated and mentally damaged individuals whose minds feel so distant from the rest of society, so disgusted with the rest of society, that they load bullets and squeeze triggers against the fledgling and the feeble, and we have the audacity to be naïve?
Are we still surprised when another idol falls from grace? When did cynicism become a mechanism of evolution? When did seeing through someone’s bullshit give you an advantage? With regards to human nature, when did the cynic become the most stoic?
Why are you putting faith in strangers, instead of placing that faith in people you know?
To Lance Armstrong, and the witch-hunt, and other cyclists, and cycling in general, and football players who ingest copious amounts of pills and suffer head injuries and commit suicide, and baseball players who inject needles and watch limbs deteriorate and suffer grand juries, and gold medalists stripped of pride and karat, and politicians of dignity and voice, we, the people, apologize for being some pathetic, gullible, sucker-ass bitches.
There is only one thing that we love more, as a country, than the fall of an individual off of the pedestal, and that’s the rise (the second-coming), redemption. Think I’m kidding? We’ll spend years hating on Armstrong, and I mean hating on this man as a doper, a liar, a schemer, a ringleader, we’ll talk about what a piece of shit he was, we’ll ask about the RICO Act and jail time, we’ll tell friends and relatives that we never liked him anyways, and we will justify his existence as an individual who must suffer the wrath of our collective disappointment.
And then, at some point in time down the road, this balding, one-balled, pseudo tour-winner, with five kids or whatever, who was dating Sheryl Crow, who survived some serious Cancer, and who came back and won the craziest bike race (as a member of a peloton of other dopers), is going to do some shit that impresses the fuck out of us, and we are going to start sucking that one ball the same way we did the first time around.
You think I’m joking? You think we won’t? We’re going to dip that ball in Dairy Queen chocolate and caramel cone-dip and start licking away the pain. Just watch. Because, sure, we love the rise, and we love, love the fall – that deep, hard, “I’ve gotta go on Oprah” fall (e.g., James Frey) – but what we love more, what we love even more than the fall is the rise to redemption (e.g., Bill Clinton).
People view their athletes as pure and god-like but believe that every politician is untrustworthy – that somehow, these two individuals are different. That athletic talent breeds a more pure psyche. That anybody that gets placed on a pedestal, for whatever accomplishment, is somehow more pure than the rest of our ilk. That these demi-gods are, in some way, better. But the truth, the reality, is that they are still, only human.
Take a moment and think about what that means. Think about what kind of people, just around you, your inner circle, your family, people you went to school with, kids you grew up with, your third grade teacher, or whoever. Okay, now that you’ve given it some thought, honestly, how many of these people have massive setbacks? How many are bigoted? Serial cheaters? Deadbeats? Pathological liars? Domestic abusers? Child molesters? Violent offenders? Major depressives? Addicts? Functional alcoholics? Just on a basic, three-degrees-of-separation level, how many people do you know that have one major malfunction (at a minimum) in their life? How many flawed people do you know? But we have the gall to get pissed at Lance – we have the privilege of sitting atop our horse.
Literature might be a better place for us to find our heroes, where the failings of protagonists are pronounced. Heroes that disappoint the reader in massive ways, but find redemption and are loved and cherished in eternity. Vile anti-heroes, self-serving minions of devilish psychoses involved in plotlines and story arches that give the reader the pleasure of seeing some redemptive quality in a character they once loathed.
Maybe you aren’t any less inclined to give Mr. Armstrong a pass, and that’s fine. It’s your prerogative. I could care less in what ways and amounts you feel like spending your mental energy.
Can’t we accept human nature? We should be at that point in our collective existence that we can look one another in the eye, honestly, and say, “You are human, and I am human, and we will fuck this thing up, in some way…”
We sit through an hour of Oprah and Lance talking about doping – like it actually fucking matters – but we can’t get a serious conversation going about the egregious mental-health support system in this country. We spend hours, days and weeks involved in Grand Jury investigations of steroid use in baseball (and our congressmen and women act all tough), but when it comes down to an investigation of the banks, and their grand jury, and the results of that grand jury, it’s another dog and pony, kabuki, limp-dick, dry-pussy ménage-a-nobody’s-actually-getting-laid.
These distractions are pathetic. Your heroes are weak. Your emotional investment in imaginary relationships makes you as weak as your idols. Your insatiable appetite for distraction from reality makes you naïve.
So, when Lance Armstrong cures fucking cancer in ten years, and you start sucking that ball again, talking about how, “He did some bad things in the past, but, I mean the guy cured cancer,” remember this: that’s good and all, but I still don’t care.