Always Meet Your Heroes (even if they turn out to be colossal pricks)
No matter how madly in love with them you are, it is essential that you see the person behind the act
No one’s perfect. No matter how big the name, no matter how suave their lines, no matter how chiseled their jaw line, that saying rings true. This is both a good and a bad thing. Good because it means your ice cream addiction is less unforgivable, and bad because it can ruin a beautiful illusion.
Imagine reading a really good book. The handsome, kind and generous hero stands in front of the setting sun and whispers sweet feminism to the faceless village maiden (you). And he never punches his knights, bellows misogynist twattery or tells his mate that you look like a flat chested Anne of Cleves. It’s all positively perfect. You fantasise about meeting the hero and telling him somewhat gushingly that you really loved what he did in Chapter 3 of Love in The Time Of Mild Hay Fever.
Then the sequel comes out. And in this one, the hero is the biggest prat on the planet. He has absorbed lad culture to the brim, and instead of angrily defending peasant girl’s rights to procreate, he has a folder in his phone of girls he’d ‘give one’. He is dismissive of his legions of enthralled soldiers, even calling one a thick prole. And when he meets the heroine, he asks her what her bra size is and calls Ol’ Mary a dumb broad for her speech at the Democratic Peasant Conference.
Imagine the overwhelming horror at the closing lines of that monstrosity.
The problem is that every celebrity or public figure has, to some extent, their own sequel where they are a bit of a prick. This isn’t because they are awful people, it’s just because there is a camera on them 24/7 and 3 or 4 honeytraps working for The Daily Express. And everything they tweet is watched by at least 40 journalists with a massive grudge.
There is a sequel to everyone. And if there isn’t, then you need to meet the people you respect or worship and see them as humans. Humans who get tired, grumpy, get bad skin, wear hideous hats and occasionally let the dazzling smile fall. You might love them anyway. You might end up being brilliant friends or fantastic writing partners. But they won’t be the shiny perfect person who lives in the glowing square at the cinema.
And that is so, so important. Realise people are people. Get reality in check. Get a sense of perfection that is realistic. Recognise that there is a machine behind modelling, acting, music and comedy that glosses and creates your heroes. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
Your hero is an illusion. He might be a brilliantly handsome, kind and funny man, but he will still get a cough, say something a bit unpleasant that one time or decide three quarter length trousers are acceptable.
Learn to face truth over fiction.