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My Response to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock

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It feels unattainable to speak about this incident with out additionally discussing our tradition of movie star worship. Each time one thing like this occurs, you see folks dogpile on the offending movie star with a gleeful ethical righteousness, “OMG WiLl, I uSeD tO hAvE sO mUcH ReSpEcT fOr YoUU.”

Actually? The man who pretends to explode aliens for a residing?

I suppose I’ve by no means understood movie star idolization. Hell, I anticipate these folks to fuck up and disappoint us. In any case, they’re below 100x extra scrutiny and stress than any of us will ever be and plenty of of them come from tough backgrounds and wrestle with psychological well being points.

For years, one of many traps I’ve identified in my relationship recommendation is idealizing one other particular person—to imagine that since you love them, they need to not have any issues by any means. In relationships, there’s a reputation for this: codependency. Codependency just about all the time results in dysfunctional relationships and heartbreak.

But, folks do that with the celebrities they love on a regular basis. For some purpose, we determine that simply because a man can shoot a basketball nicely, we anticipate him to be a fantastic businessman, a fantastic father, a fantastic husband, a fantastic group chief, to have knowledgeable and nuanced political opinions (that additionally match our personal), to have upstanding ethics and little-to-no emotional dysfunction. Oh, and he has to do all this whereas by no means complaining.

But, it’s these identical codependent sorts that spend their lives idolizing strangers on screens who then change into shocked—#ABSOLUTELYSHOCKED!!!—that so-and-so-with-the-basketball seems to be… nicely, human.

It jogs my memory of an interview with the rapper Lil’ Wayne that I noticed years in the past. The interviewer saved obnoxiously citing the truth that Wayne had lately been arrested for drug possession, anticipating Lil’ Wayne to point out some type of regret or remorse about it. But, he didn’t. Flummoxed, the interviewer lastly requested him, “However what do you say to the entire younger folks on the market who look as much as you, who look to you to know how one can stay their very own lives?”

Wayne responded with one thing like, “Man, should you want a rapper to inform you how one can stay, then possibly you ain’t actually livin’ in any respect.”

The identical manner you may’t have a wholesome loving relationship with out accepting and even appreciating an individual’s flaws, I might argue you may’t actually be a “fan” of somebody until you’re additionally keen to just accept and acknowledge that particular person’s shortcomings.

So, the place does this go away us with Will? Are you able to settle for and tolerate his shortcomings? As disillusioned as I’m with what he did, I can. However I’ve additionally seen his unimaginable generosity up entrance and shut. I’ve studied the many years’ value of fantastic issues he has carried out for the folks in his life, his group and his trade. I’ve been round him sufficient to know that his coronary heart is in the suitable place and he’s embarrassed by what he did.

In our Twitter-driven world, I imagine we’re over-optimized for ethical judgment and under-optimized for forgiveness. Ethical judgment comes simple and is rewarded with retweets and clicks. Forgiveness is tough and doesn’t go viral.



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