I have been on the periphery of fame and fortune for most of my career. My real job as a television sports director has allowed me to observe incredibly wealthy people up close. It seems that the deadly duo of money and celebrity affects nearly everyone they touch and generally not positively. I have often told my sons that the children of rich and famous parents are usually maladjusted. And that is why I have taken the burden of mediocrity on my career. I did it for them.
It is hard to imagine what celebrities go through in their lives. A life without privacy has to be difficult. The craving for celebrities in America has become a cottage industry with mulitple magazines and shows following every inane tidbit of their lives. This week Rolling Stone magazine went for shock value by picturing rapper Kanye West on the cover as a Christ-like figure with a crown of thorns on his head. Fake blood trickles down his face as he takes on the tortured demeanor of a “suffering” star. The magazine had the predictable PR release.
“Rolling Stone covers have always been an outlet for artistic expression; we certainly do not intend to offend religious groups, or anyone else for that matter.”
Excuse me while I turn off my bovine excrement alarm.
Okay, I’m back.
Do you really think that Rolling Stone did not know that this cover would offend religious groups? I mean, really, how could a profane hip hop artist portraying Christ offend anyone? Of course you always must safely couch everything offensive in the safe cocoon of “artistic expression.” Although I have noticed that artistic expression seems to be limited to Christian images. Apparently the creative juices don’t flow when it comes to such images of Islam or Hinduism or other religions. But that would be a topic for another day.
When I read the comments of Kanye West I just feel sad. West is probably known to most of us middle-aged white guys as the one who went off script during the celebrity fundraiser for Katrina victims. It seemed like an SNL skit as West went on and on as actor Mike Myers squirmed next to him and seemed to be looking for the director to get off the two shot so he could make a run for it. When West finished his personal rant Myers awkwardly went right back to the script.
“And subtle, but in many ways even more profoundly devastating, is the lasting damage to the survivors’ will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all.” For reasons that I’m sure Myers is still questioning he threw it back to West.
When Kanye proclaimed that, “Bush doesn’t care about black people” the control room cut off of West and give Myers a chance to bolt and have a serious discussion with his agent.
Kanye West is a rather typical product of the celebrity media machine. He thinks he is far more important than he actually is the eternal scheme of things.
“In America, they want you to accomplish these great feats, to pull off these David Copperfield-type stunts,” he says. “You want me to be great, but you don’t ever want me to say I’m great?”
C.S.Lewis wisely said that pride is the anti-God state of mind. There is a real difference between self-esteem born of being created uniquely in the image of God and the puffed-up pride of stars like West. Because he is cool and currently popular his influence on young men and women is a concern. But the influence of celebs like Kanye West can be mitigated by the influence of godly parents involved in the lives of their kids. And I don’t mean just talking about Jesus but actually allowing Him to live through your lives. Mitigating culturing influence means spending time with your kids, learning how God uniquely designed them, and being authentic with your faith. It means learning how to say things like “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong, forgive me.” It means telling them you love them but showing them that love by not trying to always be their buddy.
I remember getting roundly criticized by some in the Christian community for watching Beavis and Butthead with my sons. Why would I allow them to watch such trash and why in the world would I watch it with them? Let me explain the method to the madness.
1) I knew if they did not watch at my house they would watch it elsewhere. All the kids were talking about the show so I knew enough about teens to know they would watch it somewhere. Certainly there is a limit to this philosophy but I did not feel this show went beyond that limit.
2) My involvement removed the “forbidden fruit” aspect and made it just a show and not an act of rebellion to watch. Teens love to provoke the outraged parent gene we all possess.
3) I was able to discuss with my sons when I thought the show went too far and why it did not align with our families values.
4) There were some funny moments that we could laugh about together.
The net result? Beavis and Butthead came and went. The Republic still stands. My sons survived and maintained their faith. Kanye West will also come and go. Don’t get too exercised about his foolish little cover stunt. Some day he will have to come to grips with the eternal questions that King Solomon wrestled with in Ecclesiastes.
Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “utterly meaningless!”
What do people get for all their hard work? Generations come and go, but nothing really changes. The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows again to the sea. Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
As cool as celebrity and wealth may seem this is where you will ultimately find yourself without a relationship with the Living God. The wise king agonized for chapter after chapter about the meaning of this existence. And finally he concluded.
Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.