Ami’s post regarding the Benoit case got my brain working. Usually, that just means the brain breaks down… and that may have been the case this time, but here I go anyways.
For those out of the loop, popular wrestler and all around family guy Chris Benoit was found dead along with his family on Tuesday. Tuesday night saw two developements… a WWE tribute to Benoit full of people saying what a great and kind guy he was and how much he loved his family. Oh, and a little sideline to the story of his families death that he was the one who killed his wife and kid and then committed suicide. Whoops. The WWE apologized for the tribute show and the debate started. Was it ‘Roid Rage? Doubtful, as I am understanding it, somebody in a bout of ‘Roid Rage does not methodically plot out their aggressive actions, and it’s a relatively short burst-not a long weekend deal.
Some folks, die hard fans of Benoit, are reaching for any answers to explain why this guy who had the reputation of being a real nice guy would snap. Ami noted that a person who is not famous would not get the benefit of the doubt from the public. She is right. No doubt, the public at large just judges a relative stranger based on that single event.
But thinking about that a little deeper, why are people more lenient on celebrities? Because they are rich? Because the media says they are cool? I actually think it is a simpler reason. We’ve seen celebrities doing other things. I’ve seen Seth Green (to use the example I used on Ami’s blog) in movies, TV, interviews on TV, radio and in magazines. He comes across as a nice guy, and I have heard he has exactly that reputation. He’s a decent guy.
If Green were suddenly accused of murdering some of his friends or family? I’d want to figure out a reason that didn’t contradict that image. So, you know, Seth…if you read this? Don’t kill people. Anyways, you know who I have never seen until he made the news for murder? Bobby Cutts. All I know about Bobby Cutts is that apparently he murdered the pregnant mother of his child and soon to be born child.
You know who has seen Cutts outside of this news story? His friends and family. You know what they are saying? One of Cutt’s uncle’s questioned the morality of Jessie Davis. In fact, it’s not hard to find people who will tell you what a decent, nice or good person a killer was when news breaks. See, if people have positive associates, they don’t want to accept the negatives.
With celebrities, fans feel like they know the celebrity. And if they like what they have seen, just like a family member will not believe their loved one is as bad as people make them out to be, the fan wants to believe in the best qualities they saw in their favorite celebrity. And bear in mind, there are plenty of people who are ready to believe the worst in celebrities based more on the fact that the person is famous than anything else.
Celebrities tend to get away with stuff because for fans, they are almost like extended family. They are familiar. You know what I know about Chris Benoit? He was a wrestler and he murdered his wife and kid. I am not into wrestling. So, I looked at it and thought, “That’s messed up.” Just like I did when I saw Cutts, Scott Peterson and Andrea Yates arrested. I knew nothing more about the guy than I knew about them, so I had not previous connection that was disrupted. It is not so much that celebriteis are let off the hook by an adoring public who will not dare judge them (as people judge celebrities all the time). Rather, celebrities have a weirdly extended “family”…and just like any family, they rarely want to believe the worst about someone they like.
*It should be noted, though, killing your family puts a little dent on “He was a great guy and a loving family man!” whether you are famous or some guy living in Peoria, IL.