A couple of years ago, I visited Paris with my wife. It was our anniversary and we decided to go back to the city that we both agreed we wanted to live in should we ever strike it rich.
Won't be any time soon, but that's another story.
It was in the Pantheon, a temple to the great minds of France, that it dawned on me that something had gone horribly wrong. Surrounded by the statues honoring Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Rousseau and Zola, it occurred to me that if the place were built today, the statuary would reflect what our modern culture chooses to glorify.
You guessed it: Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga and Brittany, bitch.
You cannot escape the media fascination with celebrity culture. Our young people are inundated with both the exploits and the plight of celebrities that have seemingly lost their moorings.
Charlie Sheen is the latest to go crazy in public. And the media are eating it up. What happened to decency? What happened to recognizing that bi-polar behavior is mental illness, not a form of mass entertainment?
We are complicit to the train wreck by watching it. The media understands what the public wants to see and searches out the unhinged, vulnerable, or addicted personalities that lust after attention. The notion that they have it coming because they're in the public eye is a suspect rationale.
Compassion, not ridicule, would do our culture some good. Voltaire, I am sure, is rolling in his grave.
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.