We, my husband and I, usually like to watch an early morning TV special one day a week. That program recaps some of the week’s news and touches on some topics which are not usually on our radar as far as subject matter. This morning a whole segment of the program was devoted to the death of a Hollywood personality we were only vaguely familiar with. While his death has not been ruled to have been directly caused by a drug overdose, he was reportedly found with a needle in his arm. Numerous plastic bags of a white powder were found near his body. While the death of that person is lamentable, I do wonder about the herd mentality that causes so many to immediately put such a person on a pedestal. News of this particular individual’s death follows on the heels of a continuous display of other celebrities spending hours in the limelight while misbehaving or dying after having ingested toxic substances. Another wordpress blogger, purple rays, hit on that same theme today, with a post about majority and herd mentality, illustrated with a depiction of the French Revolution, complete with a guillotine. That posting hit an immediate chord in me. Why, I question, do we seek to create idols of movie “stars” who are avowed drug addicts, alcoholics and self-destructors? Why do we continue to follow their careers with bated breath, just waiting for them to fall into that black pit again so we can jeer and cheer at the same time? Why do we so eagerly snap up the sleeze rags at the local grocery store or newsstand that have celebrity “tell-all” stories and doctored photos?
It saddens me to hear of anyone suffering the effects, either of personal addiction or as family/friends suffering the inflicted collateral damages. What saddens me even more, though, is our propensity as a general population to vicariously enjoy their out-of-control lifestyles and then publicly proclaim great sadness when that lifestyle sounds their death knell. Where is the public outrage when those individuals are being widely lauded, even as they show up for the accolades while in a greatly impaired state? Where is the societal glue that is supposed to hold their families together and protect their innocent children? Who dares to stand up and say, “Enough, already!” ? Who will dare to stand outside the confines of the herd mentality and be individual enough to forge a strong solitary path? (the image used today comes from http://www.thebioethicsproject.org)