There are so many writers, performers, and musicians who have filled my life with their work, and I have no shortage of heroes. Personally, I think hero worship can be good. Recognizing the greatness in someone is a defense against cynicism. If we see people we respect achieve perfection, then we know perfection is possible. And if it's possible, then it's something to strive for.
This is the photo that came up when I searched "perfection," and while I wouldn't go that far,
who am I to argue with the good people at Getty?
But just because it's good to have heroes doesn't mean it's good to meet them. In fact, most times I think it's best to avoid it, and here are four reasons why.
4There's an Excellent Chance Your Hero Is a Douche
Did you know that a lot of celebrities are douchebags? Of course you did. Here's how you knew: Most celebrities are human beings. Have you met human beings? We're the worst, so, statistically speaking, most celebrities you'll meet will be awful. Whether it's supermodel Naomi Campbell throwing telephones at personal assistants or Bruce Willis being seemingly hostile at an interviewer for no reason, bad behavior abounds.
Even if they're not dbags in the first place, being a celebrity gives you more opportunities to act out than having a normal job, meaning that even a nice guy might growl at someone at the adjacent urinal if they asked for an autograph. Just like the majority of celebrities, the majority of fans must be terrible, too. Even my micro-inkling of Internet fake-fame has shown me countless "fans" who thought they could endear themselves by being combative assholes. I had one guy criticize my family and not understand why he got de-friended on Facebook. He's probably reading this now and telling his foreman at the jackass factory, "Hey, that asshole he's talking about is me!!! I'm that asshole."
DC Productions/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Still not clear if the "jackass factory" employs jackasses or actually manufactures them as well.
In summary, people are terrible. Some of those terrible people become famous and act out as terrible celebrities. Some terrible people become terrible fans and act terribly, making otherwise nice celebrities act out. Ultimately, the deck is stacked against a pleasant celebrity interaction.
3Reality Destroys Fantasies
But y'know what? Sometimes celebrities are lovely. Last year, I was lucky enough to moderate a panel with Six Million Dollar Man/Fall Guy Lee Majors at the Edmonton Expo (and Gillian Anderson at the Calgary Expo, but that's a different story). In the late '70s, Lee Majors was married to Farrah Fawcett and was the highest paid actor on television. A major star. Despite this, he appeared for the Expo without a trace of ego. He was kind and courteous (even to fans who didn't deserve it) and seemed happily married to a lovely woman. But there was one problem: He couldn't run 60 mph and wrestle Bigfoot with his bionic arm. He was just a normal man, not the superhero from my early childhood.
So I met a humble, well-mannered, gracious actor who even posed with me and my action figure, but I had questions: Was I better off having met him, was it better to pretend Steve Austin was a real person and not an actor, and ...
... why did I look so fat and ugly standing next to him?
I'm still not sure. I know the curtain was pulled back for a minute, and even though the actor behind the hero was a great guy, it's fun to pretend superheroes are real sometimes.
Also, it's in my contract: For every ugly pic of me, I'm allowed to insert a decent one and pimp my book.