I've been thinking of Parade Magazine, found buried in your Sunday paper, lately. Of all the fish-wrappers...a step above tabloids, I guess, but something that should likewise ignored, shoved aside to the trashcan pile with the other filler in the Sunday paper like all those color ads. It used to be like a little Life magazine, way back, and that's why I still look at it with faint hope. But its decline seems to be an indicator of sorts, like the ills suffered by amphibians which show, early on, what damage is occurring in wetlands.
Note the format size and volume of content: it has drastically shrunk in recent years, and they have cut Marilyn's brain teaser column down to one item. For a while now, the first and main articles are usually about what celebs are up to TODAY and RIGHT NOW. Like their antics aren't always the same, over and over again. It has turned into daytime TV or a women's 'zine, with a feel-good article and of course a recipe thrown in to balance the sleazy and self-promoting celeb goings-on.
And whether the subject is famous this month for being in something or an unknown young athlete who is an inspiration to us all, the theme throughout is: admire this person. Puff pieces placed by publicists are nothing new, but why do we fall for it? Photoshop is ubiquitous, and there is no correlation between what is true and what you read in print or hear from TV talking heads in suits.
The hyper morning TV show hosts are well-paid celebrities themselves, but I can find no reason why: recently I watched in horror, then anger, as all four talked on top of each other and then drowned out their guest at the Olympics, who just gave up. Ted Cruz, you have a career after politics just waiting for you.
When you dig a little and find out about the whole person, whether political figure, leader, icon, or star, the result is usually the evaporation of superficial admiration. You must realize, with a sigh, that "out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight and true thing was ever made." That's hard to live with; it's so much easier to just believe. The king (or ex-President) is divine, the Pope infallible, the general experienced and wise, the media star perfection itself, the author or scholar always brilliant throughout a long career. George Harrison, who certainly met everybody and didn't suffer fools at all, said the only person he admired was Ravi Shankar. Without my ever meeting him, I'd add Pete Seeger. But my list is really short, like George's.
The problem lies in our confusing physical attractiveness or talent with the whole person, while consistently failing to recognize psychopathic personality traits. The icons themselves, living in a bubble of praise and admiration, come to believe that, like George W. Bush, being born on third base (with huge advantages in social status or physical/mental talents) means that they've hit a home run.
The media, local or national, is saturated with sports heroes. I can admire the immense amount of work, that most of us would not ever be capable of, that goes into such achievements, but I can't admire someone for being born with the genes that mean an exceptionally fast, coordinated or strong body, or intense focus or even eidetic memory. I can't admire the extremely rich and ruthless people, like the ones on "Shark Tank" or in Fortune magazine, we're supposed to be in awe of; they've got the qualities of a salt-water crocodile, not a human being with a spirit or soul.
My favorite financial blogger (speaking of another bunch of mostly scoundrels) suggests a "low-information diet." Don't trouble your mind or body by accepting the endless junk -- manipulated media or food -- that is thrown at you 24/7. Even the Buddha had that figured out, 2500 years ago!