19 January 2012

Battling Demons and Personal Responsibilities

At what point do we get to pass of our character flaws as the much more courageous sounding ‘battling of demons’? I sure would like to know, as it can turn a seemingly embarrassing or shameful thing and turn it into a somewhat admirable struggle; almost a sign of integrity, as if we are truly a virtuous person being assailed by forces beyond our control, but nevertheless susceptible to our attacks.
How can I battle this ‘I'm a slob’ demon all by myself?
I am of course bringing this up because of the recent death of Amy Winehouse*, that talented young woman who died at the curious age of 27, and yet despite the universal acclaim of her talent I can only seem to recall one slightly telling song where she was urged to go to rehab, but she said no, no, no.
I woke that day with my wife telling me Amy Winehouse had died, and I didn’t really stop to think how; it was pretty much a foregone conclusion. She must have died from some sort of drug related cause; as if there were anything she was more famous for than her voice, it was her addiction problems. This instant acceptance of such a death is something worth lamenting enough as it is, because it almost takes away the tragedy of her life and replaces it with an acceptable stereotype. It’s almost as if people don’t care as much about the death of a drugged up star because that’s pretty much what we all expect.
Lamentations aside, what truly bothers me about this affair is the way that she is described in the media, and the all too common way that in today’s society people with problems are often talked up in an attempt to mollycoddle the public, which apparently have some vested interest in those being in the spotlight retaining some form of integrity.
This is why we see drug addict footballers being referred to simply as substance abusers, actors who beat up women are labelled as troubled, racist or abusive sportsmen are actually just controversial, or other such examples. In each and every case the problem with this person is turned around to either be an external force working against them or worse; a problem with how we perceive them, as opposed to how they are. The famous person who does drugs can’t be held accountable for their actions, because they are famous for a reason, and it’s almost as if people are so unwilling to believe that people who are good in one respect (be it sports, or acting, or music)can also be so deficient in another. We want everyone to be role models, even if they only show an outward aptitude at one specific thing.
He is rather good at rugby, so surely it’s not his fault he pretended to have oral sex with a dog....
It seems to me that in the past, role models emerged out of the fray, and were acknowledge simply because they were exceptional examples of what one should strive to become. Before fame was such a simple commodity to trade as it is today, word would only spread of a person’s overall virtue if it were earned in the arena of society. Only then were such examples made clear to the world. But then again I am basing this assertion on no real knowledge, just a glimmer of a point.
I have many personal flaws which I am not proud of having, and I try to work on them as best I can. But the thing is; I don’t talk about myself as if I am some perfect human being, living in an imperfect shell. My personal flaws are my own to work on, something which I hope can be overcome by my personal virtues (whatever they may be). If I were to take the line of thinking that anything which detracts from my character is a demon I have to battle with, well then what’s the harm if I relapse at some point? I mean it can’t all be my fault now can it? Because I was putting up a fight at least, and in this round, well the demons simply won. And I might pick up the fight again, but perhaps after this nights bender is over.....
And don’t get me started on the controversial label! When a famous athlete caused a row in last year for racial slurs (alas I cant remember which one right now), they weren't being controversial in any degree worth mentioning, as there is no controversy here that holds any sway. Their views were just downright wrong in our society. If you hold that this kind of thing is controversial, then it seems to me that there is more validity added to the arguments opposing side, which in this case is a side that asserts some form of race based value judgements. Last time I check, that wasn’t an issue in Australia; it doesn’t divide the nation.
Now if you think that this kind of thing can be considered controversial because it deals with issues of free speech and what is or is not polite to say, then fine: but don’t be afraid to say so. Say the use of racial slurs as part of free speech in this country causes controversy, but don’t for a minute mistake this with the persons comments, or the person themselves, being controversial.

Rant complete....
*This is a post I wrote back in July last year, right after the death of Amy Winehouse. The basis of the rant still seems relevant, so I figured I would chuck it up here.

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