Posted by Ian
When I was young, I’d have no trouble reeling off a list of all the famous people I respected and admired. There were dozens of them. Politicians, writers, musicians, actors… yup, I wore my heroes on my sleeve. I enjoyed listing them to anybody who would listen (and those who would not). And I tried to get others to appreciate them in the same way. When they didn’t, I invariably got annoyed. Can’t you see, I raged, how these people have changed the world?
I defined myself through those I looked up to: nothing wrong there, I suppose; after all, everybody needs somebody to look up to. Trouble is, now that I’m older, I can’t seem to find those heroes anymore. Or rather, I still value those people, but I don’t cherish them. They’re not heroes now. They’re…well, human beings. With all the faults and compromising factors and weaknesses of all of us.
Who should take their place? Maybe nobody. Maybe it’s healthy to keep people off pedestals. I’ve certainly lost all admiration for (mainstream, at any rate) British politicians – last week’s Budget sealed their fate. I can’t think of any actors I would drop everything to watch. And the musicians and writers I enjoy are all old and definitely not cutting edge.
Perhaps it’s also to do with the changing nature of celebrity. Michael Parkinson always used to go on about how, back in the 70s, he’d have incredible Hollywood big shots and legends on his show, but come the last few years he was reduced to chatting with reality show nobodies and ITV stars desperate to plug a programme.
We know too much about people nowadays. If somebody famous kept their mouth shut and went out of their way not to get their photo in the press, well: maybe that would be heroic.