Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Between Bullies and Assholes, and Creative people. Updated
La Crosse, Wisconsin news television anchor Jennifer Livingston received an email from a fellow accosting her for her being obese. She fought back by commenting that the viewer was bullying her and that she was standing up for others who were being bullied.
There are, of course, varying definitions of what is bullying, but while the email (and emailer himself) was wrong and hurtful, (definition of bullying), she wasn't being bullied. She was dealing with someone who was an asshole. No one desires criticism about appearance from strangers, let alone family or friends. But, this is an example of how people perceive media personages. We place our values and expectations of perfection upon those we see, on the basis of physical looks. And it is an example of how people who are assholes affect others.
Movie star Mel Gibson spewed racist venom when pulled over for drunk driving. People then declared him to be a bad, bad man. And suddenly, people who liked his work before now began to wonder if he was a bad actor as well as bad, bad man. His past golden career became questioned in retrospect. But while he was stinking drunk when spewing, I doubt that he was any different in sober state, only more restrained and better spoken, and as such, nothing changed other than our awareness of what he was. His work remains what it was, before the arrest, and after.
Amy Winehouse won 6 Grammy awards for her album Back to Black. She was across headlines with her drug fueled antics and criminal acts associated with it. Her music never changed, but people who never heard it judged her, and when she died from the effects of her struggles with addictions, they mocked her. But her music alone was worthy of all the accolades, beyond taste, she had a voice and a talent that was unique. What if, I ask, her talent called out to the addictive drugs, in a plea to quiet her demons?
Comic book artist and writer John Byrne became infamous when the internet bloomed in the early 2000s. His boobery was not bullying anyone, but rather seemed assholish, and he is perhaps an asshole. But his work remains what it was, on the shelf and in various galleries.
But for all the words and acts and despicable behavior of these creative people, the words and voices, the visuals and the acting, the actions and words that caused the outrage does not outweigh the product/work by the creative people. Sometimes raging assholes have raging anger, raging addictions or are just different. An example: Your brain surgeon is able to save your life but he is an asshole. The next best surgeon is nice, but only 90% as good. Do you really want a nice surgeon? Or do you want to come out of the surgery alive and able to think? As for me I don't want Amy Winehouse to have sung Toxic. I don't want John Byrne to draw on steroids and cocaine. I don't want Mel Gibson to be forced to make shit movies.
Sometimes there are assholes in the world. Sometimes there are bullies. Sometimes the people we love are assholes. Sometimes we are assholes demanding others be what we want them to be. We live in such a hyper-mediated, hyper-medicated, hyper-judgmentalist society. We demand that people live by our rules, and then, in a twist, we chafe at laws limiting our freedoms. We chafe at rules because we want to be the judge and jury, above all others. We are so judgmental that we even limit our sympathy for those who died early, because they didn't do what they should have to endured.
Well screw that. If you smoke, do it knowing that your health is affected. If you drink alcohol, tip that glass and drink up. Your life will be shortened if you over indulge. If you use illegal drugs, don't hurt anyone else when you do so, but let loose. The point is, life is short. Do you want to live forever? If so go for it. But don't judge those who don't.
I am sickened to death by the lack of empathy in humanity towards the suffering of others. When people are assholes, it doesn't remove their worth. It just challenges us to finding that worth through the crap. But humans deserve compassion for their suffering, regardless of their choices.
I've been swamped with nasty emails suggesting since I drink, smoke or am fat that I believe these things. Indeed, I am fat. I am 6'4" and 270 lbs. That isn't skinny or medium weight for anyone. I am heavy. I like smoking cigars but haven't for almost a decade, and stopped mostly in 1998 when my wife was pregnant with my son. I enjoy drinking, but I get gout if I do, so I have to choose my spots when I do it. But I don't believe in what I wrote because of my own choices.
You are welcome to think about me whatever you like. I believe that people are free to choose their path, and in doing so, the choices they make should be their own to make. I believe this comes from my view of God. I cannot choose another person's beliefs or values. Therefore, all I can do is act upon my own beliefs and allow others to do the same. For example, abortion, in my opinion, kills a baby, but I think it should be legal, because with the gray area of discussion, people who are dealing with the choice of abortion are the ones who need to make that choice. I do not say this without some understanding. I was born of a rape in 1963 and would have been aborted had my birth mother faced the situation 10 years or more later.
Choices we make are our own to make. If you don't agree with someone else's choice, then don't make that choice for yourself. That is where I come from.