My Response to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock

It feels unimaginable to speak about this incident with out additionally discussing our tradition of superstar worship. Each time one thing like this occurs, you see individuals dogpile on the offending superstar with a gleeful ethical righteousness, “OMG WiLl, I uSeD tO hAvE sO mUcH ReSpEcT fOr YoUU.”

Actually? The man who pretends to explode aliens for a residing?

I suppose I’ve by no means understood superstar idolization. Hell, I count on these individuals to fuck up and disappoint us. In spite of everything, they’re underneath 100x extra scrutiny and stress than any of us will ever be and plenty of of them come from troublesome backgrounds and wrestle with psychological well being points.

For years, one of many traps I’ve identified in my relationship recommendation is idealizing one other individual—to imagine that since you love them, they need to not have any issues by any means. In relationships, there’s a reputation for this: codependency. Codependency just about at all times results in dysfunctional relationships and heartbreak.

But, individuals do that with the celebrities they love on a regular basis. For some cause, we resolve that simply because a man can shoot a basketball effectively, we count on him to be an ideal businessman, an ideal father, an ideal husband, an ideal neighborhood chief, to have knowledgeable and nuanced political opinions (that additionally match our personal), to have upstanding ethics and little-to-no emotional dysfunction. Oh, and he has to do all this whereas by no means complaining.

But, it’s these identical codependent varieties that spend their lives idolizing strangers on screens who then grow to be shocked—#ABSOLUTELYSHOCKED!!!—that so-and-so-with-the-basketball seems to be… effectively, human.

It jogs my memory of an interview with the rapper Lil’ Wayne that I noticed years in the past. The interviewer stored obnoxiously mentioning the truth that Wayne had lately been arrested for drug possession, anticipating Lil’ Wayne to indicate some kind of regret or remorse about it. But, he didn’t. Flummoxed, the interviewer lastly requested him, “However what do you say to the entire younger individuals on the market who look as much as you, who look to you to know the right way to stay their very own lives?”

Wayne responded with one thing like, “Man, when you want a rapper to let you know the right way to stay, then perhaps you ain’t actually livin’ in any respect.”

The identical method you’ll be able to’t have a wholesome loving relationship with out accepting and even appreciating an individual’s flaws, I’d argue you’ll be able to’t actually be a “fan” of somebody except you’re additionally keen to just accept and acknowledge that individual’s shortcomings.

So, the place does this go away us with Will? Are you able to settle for and tolerate his shortcomings? As disillusioned as I’m with what he did, I can. However I’ve additionally seen his unbelievable generosity up entrance and shut. I’ve studied the many years’ value of great issues he has achieved for the individuals in his life, his neighborhood and his trade. I’ve been round him sufficient to know that his coronary heart is in the best place and he’s embarrassed by what he did.

In our Twitter-driven world, I imagine we’re over-optimized for ethical judgment and under-optimized for forgiveness. Ethical judgment comes straightforward and is rewarded with retweets and clicks. Forgiveness is troublesome and doesn’t go viral.

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