Heroes just ain't what they used to be. Have you noticed? How could you fail to notice? Our hero-worshipping, celebrity-obsessed society is in a bad shape.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong won our hearts when he excelled at the Tour de France year after year, giving American sports fans and humanitarians someone to look up to, a man who had triumphed despite the ravages of cancer, a true rags-to-riches saga. Not exactly. We learned that Armstrong had been cheating the system by taking substances designed to enable him to climb those mountains. He is now a pariah.
Track star Marion Jones was articulate, photogenic, and humble. The gold-medal winner seemed like the ideal of American athletics. Wrong again. Jones, too, was a cheater and she, like Armstrong, lives on in disgrace for her misdeeds.
Baseball star Alex Rodriguez stood a good chance a couple of years ago of smashing through Barry Bonds' all-time home run record of 763 long balls. But he has become the new poster child for the baseball steroids scandal (taking over from the tainted Barry Bonds, for that matter). A-Rod, as he is known, continues to play for the New York Yankees, appealing a 211-game suspension by Commissioner Bud Selig.
Yes, Yankees fans will cheer him when he does something well, such as hitting a home run in Sunday's Yankees' victory over the powerful Detroit Tigers.
But he continues to be disgraced in the city's tabloids and on talk-radio stations specializing in sports subjects. Rodriguez is earning his $28-million-a year salary, based alone on the amount of abuse he is taking.
And what should we all make of New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and comptroller hopeful Eliot Spitzer?
Spitzer has worked hard to rehabilitate his image after being involved in a sex scandal. His television commercials stress his maverick spirit in going after bad guys and fighting for middle-class New Yorkers.
Weiner can't get out of his own way. Every time we think we've seen and heard the last from him and his bad behavior something else surfaces that makes him look like a buffoon. Yet he campaigns on and on, seemingly oblivious to his status as a comic punch line.
Celebrity politicians and athletes should know that they have no privacy any more. Every single one of their peccadillos will come out. The same is actually true for us mere mortals. These are the new rules of society. We may not appreciate the new way of life in the digital age. But we're stuck with it.
Still, it would be nice if people that we look up to rewarded our faith with behavior that reflected goodness and gave us mere mortals something to appreciate.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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