Feb 262003
Authors: Andrew Whelan

An entertainer should be judged by his or her ability to entertain not by whether they give us something to aspire to ethically or philosophically.

We like celebrities that have faults; it makes them seem more human, more like us. But when do we let it go too far? I like Michael Jackson, R. Kelly and Mike Tyson. That doesn’t mean I condone lunatics, pedophiles and rapists, does it?

In a recent interview with 20/20, Michael Jackson admitted to sleeping in the same room as adolescent boys and denied (pretty obvious) cosmetic surgeries. He looked as loopy as a rollercoaster, as spacey as Kevin and as pathetic as my last two metaphors.

Where is the man who told other men he was looking at the “Man in the Mirror?” Have you looked in a mirror, Michael? Wasn’t the chimp and the one, white glove weird enough? Now, he’s got a veil over his little girl while he dangles her off a balcony.

Still, I love “The King of Pop.” He is the quintessential singer and dancer of my generation. I watch him break dance, and I wonder where it all went wrong.

Damn it, I love troubled celebrities with such unconditional fervor. But so what if a poor black boy form Gary, Ind., turned into a rich white man who lives on an amusement park. His music is entertaining.

And so is the music of Robert “R.” Kelly. Kelly is an excellent writer, producer and singer of R&B.

Three weeks ago, Kelly was accused of videotaping lewd acts with underage girls. Six months earlier, he had been charged with similar counts.

I think Kelly’s positive music is inspirational. His songs are a passionate oasis in a desert of R&B thugs. But lyrics like “Let’s go half on a baby” and “I wanna stick my key in your ignition” plus underage girls equals showers. As in I need a shower for my mind, what were you thinking?

While Kelly’s guilt is yet to be determined, boxer Mike Tyson was found guilty of rape.

“Iron” Mike, the most well known heavyweight of the last twenty years, knocks opponents out before the announcers get to the “Tale of the tape.” He’s a fans’ fighter, the people’s champ. We watch for 30-second K.O.’s and half-chewed ears –who hasn’t wanted to bite someone’s ear off?

I want him to succeed so I can see more. I ignore his rape conviction, his pet tigers and his huge tattoo of Communist leader Mao Su-Tung.

Tyson makes his opponent’s legs buckle with a single punch. There is something about that people can relate to. Perhaps it is perfection or a deeper, more violent gratification. People say it’s like looking at a car accident, but I think it’s more like watching someone fall down and having to hold in the laughter. It’s just wrong, but you feel it.

We want the best entertainers, with or without flaws. We want icons to sacrifice sanity and sainthood for a surreal life in the spotlight. It is as much a part of our history as CIA cover-ups and presidential scandals.

From crack dealer-turned-rapper 50 Cent to the one-eared painter Vincent Van Gogh, celebrities have serious problems. But as Americans, it is our job to look the other way.

Edgar Allen Poe, a heroine connoisseur, married his 15-year old cousin. But high school kids still enjoy his morose poetry and short stories. Chris Farley was an overweight cokehead. But he’ll be remembered for the times he made us laugh with his “big guy,” drug-induced antics.

Exactly how much deviant behavior do we accept from our celebrities?

The Broncos could sign a quarterback that snorts lines of Ajax off of the inner thighs of hookers. He could sell drugs in school zones, swindle the elderly and cheat on his taxes. As long as he torches the Raiders’ secondary twice a year and has enough 300-yard Sundays to get us back to the Super Bowl, I don’t think anyone would care what he does for fun.

Andrew is a senior majoring in hyperbole. He looks a little like Robert Downey Jr., who is not only a movie star, but also a convicted drug addict and a regular at rehab programs.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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