Sunday, March 15, 2009
JAN: Michael Phelps is back in the news with an interview about being caught smoking pot at a party.
Now, I think if he'd been caught taking steroids or some other performance enhancing drug, I'd be really upset by it. I'd be all over what a jerk he was, what a cheater. But I'm not particularly upset that he was smoking pot at a party, and I don't feel owed his apology. I figure he's a young kid, who like the rest of us, is bound to make a few mistakes along the way. He didn't hurt anyone else and he wasn't operating any heavy machinery.
Mostly I feel sorry for him -- that he always has to look over his shoulder for the creep at the party who is going to photograph whatever he does and exploit his celebrity.
So is this just me? or does anyone else think that this is celebrity-mistake-overkill? Is Phelps right when he tells Matt Lauer: "I've come to realize that people want to bring you up, but more people want to bring you down. And that's how our public is."
I, for one, find that I follow with great interest anything to do with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds perjury cases. I can't explain why, deep in my heart, I want them to go down.
HALLIE: I agree that the bigger you get as a celebrity the more pleasure the "public" takes in taking you down a peg or two. On a related note, at Left Coast Crime mystery conference I was on a panel as a critic and heard that question I've often heard...do I think it's my job to point out when some perennially bestselling author writes a less-than-stellar book. (I don't.)
As a PS, Rhys was a great Guest of Honor... and sang a song (YES!) when she received her GOH award. So, one day we all want to hear more about Rhys's checkered (or perhaps it should be star studded) past and hidden talents.
HANK: Rhys! What was the song?
JAN: Oh dear, I hope this doesn't mean Matt Lauer will be gunning for Rhys soon! (just kidding Rhys, you're safe as long as you decline the Kellogg's endorsement.)
ROBERTA: I definitely think we common folk expect too much from our celebrities. And we probably have mixed feelings about how well they're doing, compared to little old us. However, once a person signs on with sponsors for big endorsements, the standard of behavior expected does rise. And rightly so, in my opinion. If Michael Phelps didn't want people watching him, he could have faded into the woodwork after the Olympics. And as we discussed a couple of weeks ago, yikes, we all have skeletons in our history. What bothers me most is the people who are paid dearly for their name and presence who don't want to take on the rest of the burden.
Hallie, would love to hear more about that question about the best-selling writer with a clunker. Would you just not choose to review that one?
RO: I felt sorry for Phelps, too. Jeez, who cares? But I was more upset that Wheaties trashed the boxes of cereal (with his picture on them) instead of donating them to a food bank.
I like to think that I don't care about this stuff, but dang if I didn't want to know what the hell happened to Charlize Theron's father.
HANK: Well, Jan, because cheating and lying are not good. There's something that happens, with celebrities, and of course as we see every day now, with financial celebrities, that makes people somehow decide the rules don't apply to them.
That's what I think the problem is. Suddenly, celebrity means freedom from the constraints and self-control the rest of us use every day. And we hardly think about it, do we? I mean, have I thought--oh, you know, I'm just not going to pay my taxes, who'll ever find out? NO! I pay them. Those are the rules.
I'm FUMING over the AIG bonuses. (And everything else, of course. But that's a different blog.) And I do stories about people who have ripped off the system, and they say: how could you do that to me? And I say--*I* didn't do anything! You did!
<>JAN: Yes, Hank I think you're right, it's the cheating that makes me crazy, (Roger Clemens) not the youthful mistakes (Michael Phelps).
So I guess we all have the celebrity crimes we want to excuse and the ones we want to see punished. Tell us, if you could run the world, who should we leave alone and who should go down?