The outrage over Kathy Griffin and the exaggeration of celebrity impact

There is a lot of nonsense being talked about celebrities in the wake of the controversy over Kathy Griffin’s waving of a fake severed head of Donald Trump.
Celebrities are merely instances of homo sapiens, just like us. To use the old saying, hey put their pants on one leg at a time. They might be well-known public figures, but that doesn’t magically multiply their intellect or wisdom. In fact it may well reduce their overall wisdom, since many celebrities live in a bubble, cut off from the real world as most of us know it. This is one reason why many celebrity utterances sound disconnected from reality.
Numerous instances exist from prior election cycles of electors creating models of Barack Obama being hung in effigy, and Hillary Clinton models in jail clothing, and also a severed head model of Hillary Clinton. The action by Kathy Griffin is not a new development in public discourse. People who deny that reality are unserious partisans, and I have no interest in a debate on that topic.
As is normal when people are informed that their in-group is guilty of equally bad behavior, the people in question have been furiously rationalizing the behavior away. The most common attempted rationalization is that Fred Doe from Upper Podunk, who hung Barack Obama in effigy from his porch, is not a celebrity, unlike Kathy Griffin, so Kathy Griffin’s action is much worse.
This is bullshit. If you attach more importance to the words and actions of a celebrity, you’re the fool here. The USA has a fatal fascination with celebrity, as proven by the tendency of electors to be impressed by all manner of celebrities when they decide to run for elective office. If you buy this rationalization, you are perpetuating that naive fascination. Celebrities are not inviolate idols. They are regular people, and their words and actions should be assessed on that basis. Words can be multiplied across communication channels, but that does not magically convert gibberish to nonsense. (It’s like using ALL CAPS in comments on the internet. It might make you feel more important, but it makes you look like one of a combination of angry, pompous or unable to use a keyboard).
Charles Barkley had a memorable response to some of this a few years ago, when asked whether NBA players ought to be more conscious of being role models in their actions and words because of their impact on young people. “Why should NBA players be role models for kids? What about their parents?” was his response.
Let me be blunt. If you think that the words and actions of a person are any more powerful because they are a celebrity, you’re a dupe for the showbiz approach to the evaluation of facts, truth and what is wise.


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