Your Heroes Are Not Gods

My heart is broken for those who have lost their trust in those who have inspired creativity, honesty, and confidence, but we have all been duped from minute one. OUR HEROES ARE NOT GODS.

First, I must acknowledge those who were and are directly effected by the behavior of those addressed hereafter. Your plight is more important and very different than how the rest of us deal with these flawed individuals. In no way is this meant to suggest anything about your experience. We are only observers and that's hard enough to deal with.

As a fan of Kevin Spacey and Louie C.K., I got that stomach churning sadness that cripples the mind and made me not want to think about them at all, leaving a void where previous inspiration used to be. But as I scrape through the disappointment, I realized that they never deceived me. They are exactly what they told me they were. I simply wasn't willing to listen.

The first encounter I had of this reality was when reading a biography of Jimi Hendrix. It was well written and very interesting, but when I approached chapters describing behaviors I do not approve of, I couldn't read any more. I wasn't ready to humanize one of my gods. After all, he died young, so he didn't have decades of redemption beyond his flawed youth to restore my trust, so I stopped, willing to retain my deity and unreasonable expectations of him (and myself) for a little while longer.

My favorite Kevin Spacey performances were not of him being sweet, caring, and considerate of others. His most memorable and moving performances are of powerful men with dark secrets who find ways of manipulating those you think he cares about for his own gain. House of Cards, The Usual Suspects, Seven, American Beauty. Of course he ends up carrying a secret for himself. We all wanted to love him because of his performances, but did he ever tell us he was different? According to accounts, he was not a pleasant person to work with, and he had a history of being challenging in various ways, and yet we, as the public, believed what we wanted to believe about him. The truth is that he still is an amazing and powerful actor, but maybe it doesn't feel like acting anymore when we discover that he's not as far off from these characters as we thought he was. I'm not ready to equate him to Keyser Soze, but apparently I have been filling in the blanks with my own assumptions about Kevin Spacey as a person, and that's not his doing. . . and that's what really stings.

Louie C.K. is even more forthcoming about who he is. After all, he's built his career around it, staring at his flaws in a two-way mirror with us standing on the other side to observe all it's horrible glory. . . and we loved it. He is exactly what he always said he was, and we chose not to believe him. His honesty was his art. Even in the midst of allegations, he never claimed them to be untrue. The allegations sound like one of his jokes. It's just not as funny if it's actually true. His confession was as honest and self-deprecating as his comedy, and we're ready to burn him at the stake for it. . . for being exactly what he said he was. . . for being what we love him for. None of this erases that icky feeling, but perhaps what makes that icky feeling all the more personal is that we chose not to hear what he was saying from the very beginning.

We may be ready to demonize the actions of these people, but I'm not quite ready to scrape their existence from my memory, burn everything they taught me, and hand them all the blame. I don't remember them asking anything of me as I willingly engrossed myself into some of my favorite films and comedy specials. If they weren't the nasty, edgy, disgusting characters that they were, I probably wouldn't have been interested in their performances. And would they have been able to tap into those characters with such depth and power without accessing who they really are? I don't think so. . . but I love them for the flaws on the screen and hate them for their flaws in reality. This makes me more disappointed in myself than of them. I thought my heroes were gods, with depth, perspective, and access to their darkest corners without allowing it to take them over. . . and I was wrong.

However, THESE PEOPLE ARE NO MORE DEVILS THAN THEY ARE GODS and neither are we. The question now is, what do we do with all of this? It's clear for these two individuals their careers are on hold, to put it lightly. They need time and so do we. They need time to find redemption and try to right the wrongs, and we need time to forgive them as well as ourselves for placing our trust in those we didn't even know.

None of this excuses any behavior, and none of this is meant to redeem these individuals for past indiscretions and suggest we revive their careers. This is another slap of reality. This illustrates the cost of self-awareness. The courage it takes to tap into your deepest flaws and address them directly is what makes an artist, and for those who are broken beyond what we deem as acceptable, we must use that to learn more about ourselves and do our best to repair what is broken, and hopefully they will do the same. That's why we listened to them in the first place. Let's at very least keep that part with us.