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Life Arts    H3'ed 7/4/09

Celebrity Politics-The Politics of Celebrity

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Schadenfreude--satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.  Aiming to live a life of good character, I try to avoid it, but Sarah Palin is such an inviting target. 

We will, I expect, soon learn the reason(s) behind Governor Palin's untimely resignation.  The blogs are atwitter with speculation, ranging from misuse of building equipment and funds, favoritism in granting of contracts, lack of separation of State and Home, Medical Records Mysteries, etc,....   And, to not entirely disappoint the left, the idea that the impressively articulate Ms. Palin will run against the oratorically-challenged President Obama in 2012. (Hmmm, did I get that right?)

We shall see upon what banana peel  Ms. Palin slipped in the next few weeks.  But her situation is another ever present reminder that celebrity and politics are still two different animals.  Many years ago, I used to write film features and reviews for an East Coast city weekly.  My editors would send me on press publicity junkets to meet with a film's director, actors, etc,... , who would provide me with a wealth of background information for my stories and reviews.  I prided myself on picking fact nuggets from their buffet, but not allowing their PR blitz to influence my words.  A few months later, I finally got the opportunity to leap to the "big time".  The nationally recognized newspaper that dominated my home town invited me to pen a book review.  Enthusiastically, I read the advance review copy I was given and began writing my review.  Needing a few contextual facts in those pre-internet days, I followed my past practice and called the writer's publicist to send me a press kit, and innocently mentioned my act to my new editor.  Oops.  The newspaper did publish my mixed review, but never invited me back to work for that section again.    Show business and celebrity coverage were clearly different animals than serious journalism and its intellectual and ethical standards. 

That line has been blurred-no abolished-in the intervening years.  Celebrities and politicians often jump from one dais to the other, promoting their own narcissism and creating a trail of victims in their wake.  (Ronnie, Arnie?)  But, what is acceptable for celebrities (multiple glamorous affairs in exotic beach towns , awards show goodie/gift bags worth tens of thousands of dollars, gifts from fans and industry players,  unwed pregnancies, etc,...) still has brutal consequences for politicians (multiple not-always glamorous affairs in less than exotic restrooms, "goodies" kicked back from  plying fans and industry players (lobbyists), mistresses or daughters with unwed pregnancies...

The psychological drivers that guide ambitious narcissists into politics, show business, beauty pageants, and other arenas that provide recognition and adulation are often the same intrinsic obstacles that lead to cover stories on the National Enquirer.  But, actions that can result in a greater yield at the box office for an actor, could result in charges  and disgrace for those in political office.  Because they have forgotten that their job is not to bask in our adoration, nor to entertain us with their royal cavorts.  Their role is to serve us, with dedication, diligence, and integrity.

Schadenfreude.  The hoi polloi cheer as the mighty fall.


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Jill Jackson is a practitioner of kindness and common sense. Unlike her cat, she prefers to think out of the box.

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