Why do we absolve certain individuals of responsibility for their wrongdoings just because they are famous? More importantly, why are we more forgiving of them than we are of our own friends and family? Too often, we judge those closest to us too harshly, because we care and because their actions affect us personally, but forgive famous people very quickly for doing much worse.
Celebrities are human and make mistakes like everybody else, but theirs are made in the public eye. Unfortunately, that’s part of the fame and fortune package they signed up for; a certain loss of anonymity. While these people entertain and educate us, and we do sympathise with them when their problems become public, we need to stop putting them on a pedestal and making excuses for them. Minor indiscretions, such as public drunkenness or rudeness, of course should be forgiven. After all, if we did the same things ourselves, those closest to us would forgive us. Eventually. The problem, however, is when these indiscretions are against the law.
Recently, two celebrities hit the news in thew UK for all the wrong reasons. Ant McPartlin, a popular tv presenter, crashed his car head-on into another car. Why? He was drunk. Before this, Jamie Carragher, former footballer, spat at a 14 year old girl. What on earth led him to this? She was teasing him after his former club, Liverpool, lost to Manchester United.
I am frankly disgusted that both of the above incidents were brushed off as mental illness, and we were implored to feel sorry for them. The consequences for their actions would be laughable if their offences weren’t so disgusting. They were both temporarily relieved of their tv presenting and commentating duties, with McPartlin entering a rehab facility.
While they will be inconvenienced by a loss of earnings, that’s pretty much all the punishment they will face. The former footballer spat at a child, with spitting AT someone classed as assault. Spitting ON someone is classed as battery. Yet no charges brought for a criminal offence because he is famous. While he gets sympathy, understanding and forgiveness, where was this for his victim, a 14 year old girl?
As for the tv presenter, he drove a car while under the influence off alcohol and crashed head-on into another car, he was charged with drink-driving and allowed to enter a rehab clinic to a public outpouring of sympathy and support. Again, where was any of this for the other drivers and car owners?
Having made mistakes of my own in life, big ones, I do feel for them to a certain extent. But to write it all off as mental illness is to play down what mental illness actually is. Mental illness is a constant fight with yourself. It’s debilitating, and scary at times when your mind attacks you. It is not a convenient excuse to explain away disgusting behaviour.
The former footballer wasn’t suffering from mental illness – he simply lashed out in the heat of the moment. The fact that he chose to lash out by spitting would point to an inflated ego and unhealthy levels of self importance.
As for the tv presenter, he is going through a tough divorce, but the choice to drive while under the influence of alcohol was his own. A choice which could well have cost somebody their life.
All of this just raises question about the nature of forgiveness. Why do we forgive a celebrity, or instinctively side with them during a dispute, so easily when we are so hard on our loved ones? Why can’t we be more forgiving, and understanding, of each other?
Most importantly of all…What would the world look like if we forgave and made an effort to understand our loved ones as easily as we do with famous people who we admire?