Letters of Mass Construction

Celebrity = Still Human

I remember meeting my first celebrity when I was in high school or at least the first person I thought was a celebrity. Being the good little book worm geek it was David Brin. Mr. Brin is the author of one of my favorite books of all time, Startide Rising. Startide Rising was also the book which caused me to skip school for the first time (I had to finish it and I wasn’t letting school get in the way).

I went to a book signing in San Francisco and I can remember wanting to ask a thousand questions. I barely got out the word, “hi”. This might have been the one and only time I can ever really remember being in awe of someone (I am sure if I ever meet David Brin again he will get a chuckle out of his celebrity status). Later that same year I met Harlan Ellison but five words out of his mouth cured me of the celebrity thing forever, “kid, you’re in my way.”

I later went onto managing a bookstore where I was able to meet many authors I greatly admired. They were all celebrities to me and they were all human. This goes for every actor, sports star, artist, musician, etc, I have ever met. They may be talented but they don’t have super powers. We forget that sometimes. There is a whole industry built up around glorifying, raising up, and then tearing down celebrities. I wish we could resist.

I was really sad this weekend when Whitney Houston died. I am not a fan of her music. It doesn’t matter. I was sad because hers was a life of constant struggle and torment. A life full of bad habits and bad people. She was human in every sense of the word. She came packed with all of the frailties of the human experience.

My sadness grew when it took no time at all for the jokes to start circulating. Cruel malicious attacks on someone who had just died. I couldn’t help but wonder, “why is this okay?” Is it because she is famous? What a load of crap. Her fame should have nothing to do with the world practicing compassion. She had a family. She had friends. She had a daughter.

I wish people would take a moment and think about what they are saying or writing. What if it had been someone in your family? How would the jokes sit with you then? Someone being famous does not put them outside of the realm of compassion. They are just human beings. The same as us. They need privacy and laughter and friends and hugs just like I do. Maybe someday we will all remeber that.

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