Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Normalizing The Insanity

First, thanks to CSNStores.com, where you can get anything from a dollhouse to an Eames lounge chair, for inviting me to do another review-- which is coming up soon. But I have something else I wanted to talk about first.

Or rather, that I don't want to talk about first. Namely, I don't want to talk about Charlie Sheen. And so I'm blogging about it. I realize the irony of this...

I stopped caring about Charlie Sheen at precisely the moment he held a knife to his wife's throat and threatened to kill her. A guy who does that should not have a TV show. A guy who does that should not have the world record for the quickest rise to 1 million Twitter followers. But people love crazy. We love to watch people go off the rails. I'm not sure exactly why, and I'm sure not above it all-- despite that I have no sympathy or positive feelings for Sheen, I've watched the interviews, too. (At least, parts of them, until I got frustrated enough to stop.)

I want more attention to be paid to the real role models. People like this guy who's out there feeding the hungry and tending to the sick and trying to make people feel human, just because it's the right thing to do. Could you help bathe a homeless stranger and give him a haircut? I can't imagine it, but maybe that's what needs normalizing.

As it stands, in this culture that rewards celebrities behaving badly, what we have done is to normalize sin and crime. Politicians are expected to cheat on their wives. Athletes who get women pregnant and deny they're the fathers? No big deal! Musicians who use drugs? They might as well shoot up on stage... we don't care. Teen role models who pose nearly nude? We'll reward them with bigger contracts. Kleptomaniac actresses, movie stars with DUIs... we may act outraged for half a second, but look what happens. Paris Hilton gets paid tens of thousands of dollars to show up at a party. Linday Lohan gets offered a million dollars for an interview when she gets out of jail.

When something happens that's big enough to still really make us sit up and take notice-- like Tiger Woods and Jesse James and the way they slept with everyone-- even that helps to normalize the "lesser offenses." A guy cheated on his wife just once? Oh, no big deal-- at least he wasn't like Jesse James. The fact that Hugh Grant got caught with a prostitute mattered for about three seconds, and then it seemed okay.

It's not okay!

Look, I know that no one's perfect and that we've all done a few lousy things in our lives, but I wish we could find a way to elevate the status of the people who are out there quietly doing great things rather than focusing so much attention on the people out there who are loudly doing horrible things. Imagine if, instead of spending a week listening to Charlie Sheen mouth off about his tiger blood and how much better he is than the rest of us unworthy peons, we spent time learning about Timothy Jaccard, a Long Island police department paramedic who devotes his life to rescuing newborn babies who have been abandoned or are in danger of being abandoned or killed. I'd even be satisfied with paying more attention to celebrities like Matt Damon, who loves his wife and kids and is trying to do some good in this world.

Let's stop getting jaded by the crazy, bad things celebrities do. Let's instead get so inundated with acts of human kindness that they become the new normal. Let's normalize goodness.