5 Household Names Who Probably Shouldn’t Be
There’s having a legacy and reputation that forever locks you into human history, and then there’s a step above that: being a “household name.” Someone that’s easily recognizable to most people despite the staggering shortcomings of the American education system. Some people are part of the daily lexicon because of their current fame or amount of airtime, but some remain touchstones years after their death, and not just because, again, most American public school history textbooks are old enough to have been printed on the Gutenberg press.
The funny irony of this kind of status is that, although a whole lot of people know their names, the knowledge of them is often fairly shallow. You might remember a picture from a middle-school overhead projector or a single test question, but it’s rarer for someone to have a deep knowledge of the name in question. This also naturally lets some of these people slide by with a history that is a whole lot less cut-and-dry than your mental image lets on.
Here are five household names who really shouldn’t be…
Lindbergh is most widely known for two things: 1) piloting an aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean; and 2) having his baby stolen. Going off just those two things, of course he seems like an easy hero — a tough-as-nails flyboy with a tragic family history. The problem here, though, is also twofold. First, the only thing that Lindbergh hated more than being told he couldn’t fly across the Atlantic Ocean was, uh, Jews. The second is that a family tragedy hits slightly less hard when the father in question has multiple other families in secret.
Let’s start by addressing his anti-Semitism, especially during World War II. He got himself started on the wrong foot from the jump in 1938, when Hitler offered him a medal and, uh, he accepted. Not exactly the guy you want as your biggest fan. Only a short time later was Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, where Nazis murdered hundreds of Jews, destroyed their houses and burned their synagogues. After that, people urged Lindbergh to return the medal, and he said, “Well, no need to go giving medals back willy-nilly” (paraphrased).
That pretty neatly established where his sympathies lied, but he also decided to give some speeches full of sadly not-that-old-fashioned rhetoric like, “We must ask who owns and influences the newspaper, the news picture and the radio station.” As for those secret families, he cheated on his mourning wife just about as much as you’d expect a relentlessly horny man with access to a private plane would.
Lindbergh might have been supporting the Nazis in the ol’ marketplace of ideas, but there’s another famous name that supported them in the regular marketplace of goods and services. That name, which is still seen today at all manner of luxury fashion stores, and, maybe most embarrassingly, displayed prominently on any number of men’s polos, hats and overpriced T-shirts, is Hugo Boss, a German tailor who landed a cushy government contract in the 1930s. The German government at that time, of course, being the Nazi party.
The brown shirts that gave the German Sturmabteilung their nickname, as well as the uniforms for the SS and Nazi party at large, were all manufactured by Boss. Apologists say things like, “what else was he supposed to do, not make shirts for Hitler?” to which, first of all, the answer is: yes. Secondly, Boss was a long way from an objector forced to pump out uniforms at gunpoint. He was a card-carrying member of the Nazi party starting in 1931. You don’t need to scrub the internet for a source on his involvement either, as the company has acknowledged and apologized for its past. Sure, it literally built their business and they’re named after a full-ass Nazi, but they’re not happy about it, or anything.
Now, before I spend this whole article covering people who get off the hook for being Nazi sympathizers, and I truly could, let’s move on for the sake of variety. On to a name that only a couple years ago, you would think was completely made up: Dr. Oz. Which would be somewhat appropriate, to be honest, given that the primary field that Mehmet Oz traffics in is bullshit. Was Dr. Oz, at least at one point, a trustworthy and even genuinely talented surgeon? Yes, he was.
From there, though, he quickly decided that he liked being on TV a lot more than he liked saving lives, and followed the real-doctor-to-unsettling-psycho pipeline that Ben Carson established, finally reaching the same ultimate result of a failed political career. Pretty much ever since he stuck that heart in a New York Yankee’s chest, everything about Dr. Oz has been toxic. The medical advice he trumpeted on daytime TV was usually questionable at best and straight-up fake at worst. His political opinions are both horrible and thin, with the most accurate image presented being a status-obsessed carpetbagger. Every minute he was ever on your parents’ TV was actively harmful.
Thankfully, the piper seems to have finally demanded payment, and his political missteps may have tanked his chances of even ending up back on television.
Pretty Much Every Serial Killer
I could have picked any number of specific names to use: the Night Stalker, Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, take your pick. The real problem here is the treatment that they receive, and are possibly motivated by, when chopping up living, breathing people. Yes, they’re usually receiving death sentences, not Congressional medals of honor, but as they say, “Any press is good press.”
Especially as the serial killer seems to have given way to the mass shooting for psychopaths in search of fame and attention, it’s a debate that’s worth having, especially as Netflix continues to fill up with documentaries and slightly-too-glossy content about serial killers’ past. Maybe the saddest part of applying it to modern mass murderers is that it’s going to end up being the ubiquity of the crime, not the effort of a news organization, that’s going to deny them fame.
I ask you this: Would any other man be as beloved by the public while also having a YouTube compilation of him choking his son? Would we dismiss the actions of a man who keeps an entire community on the brink of nuclear disaster out of sheer incompetence as a goof? We must deny this brutish oaf further airtime before his violence and laziness are emulated.