We read a lot about redemption these days, especially around election time, or during the holidays. Everyone, in one sense or another, seeks some sort of redemption, whether large or small, significant or no.
People make New Year's resolutions seeking or attempting a redeeming or redeemable action. Family members make attempts for redemption in the eyes of their relatives: fathers from sons, mothers from daughters, brothers from sisters, and so on.
Redemption is the great, unattainable gold ring for most, but for many it is sweet; so very, very sweet.
Redemption has raised its head quite a bit in the press lately, with many "celebrities" and people of note finding themselves in the public eye for all the wrong reasons, and trying to make good on previous promise and potential. Some have seemed successful in their attempts to seize upon a redeemable future, while others have not. But why? (As if the rest of us should care, anyway. But, I digress, that is not the issue of the blog.)
Three who have fallen:
People seem to understand that Kanye West is nothing more than a press hog, and write off his antics as immature and nothing more than braggadocio and drunkenness (Whether drunk on alcohol or his own celebrity, it makes no difference.). His albums still sell, he buys diamond teeth, and he moves along oblivious to the world around him - one of the many positives of being an uber-successful music mogul. (George Bush is still not a fan, but I don't think West is losing sleep...) West seems to have sought a modicum of redemption with apologies and public appearances, but his efforts have mostly seemed less than genuine, and there isn't much chance that he becomes anyone's spokesperson any time soon..
Lindsay Lohan has actively sought redemption and has been laughed aside for good reason. Her attempts have been without merit and she continues to disappoint and remains fodder for the tabloid and blog community. If there is a yet-to-be-discovered way to alienate people, Lindsay will find it and make it her own.
Mel Gibson has remained rather aloof throughout his latest debacle, and it seems as though his future redemption may never happen. He has been labeled a wife-beater and a lout, and there seems to be no turning back, or acceptance from the general public.
These three have just randomly popped into my head, and none seems destined for redemption of any kind, at least any time soon. But why?
Robert Downey, Jr. was a drug-addled drunk not too long ago who spent more time behind bars than on stage or screen. Charlie Sheen recently locked a prostitute in a hotel room (Alledgedly...) and proceeded to demolish the room and threaten her well-being - all while on a hefty amount of cocaine. Keifer Sutherland has spent many a shirtless night in jails around the world, ready to tackle a tree at any given moment. David Hasselhoff is an embarrassing floor-eating drunk.
What makes them so different? Why has society seen fit to grant these guys a pass while condemning the others?
In Downey's case it is talent, but also the knowledge that he has harmed no one but himself with his antics and drug use over the years. He has been the poster child for public image redemption, becoming a pitchman extraordinaire, and selling movies and toys to children with his Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes films.
Charlie Sheen is still the highest-paid actor on television despite a slew of ridiculous problems, because, like Keifer Sutherland, his actions are simply seen as "Charlie being Charlie". Both actors have grown up in the business, constantly in the spotlight, and their transgressions are overlooked and expected by a celebrity-starved public. A wry smile lets us know that they are just doing what comes naturally. They are redeemed as their shows lead ratings charts, despite a lack of comedic talent (Sheen) or sobriety (Sutherland).
Hasselhoff has become a caricature of himself, and therefore is always open to ridicule. The fact that he accepts it, much the same as William Shatner and other aging actors with the ability to shift to any persona, keeps the public at large from caring if he does anything stupid, so long as he doesn't hurt anyone.
So why has the public turned against West, Gibson, and Lohan?
In Gibson's case it starts with the 'N' word and the vile way in which he spouted it. No one likes a racist, especially an angry, violent racist. While most of his phone conversations are likely taken out of context, he obviously made very derogatory, inflammatory comments that can never be taken back. West has offended a President and a pop princess on national television, further widening the racial divide in the process, and offending most of the nation. His lack of contrition where these incidents are concerned make it worse. Lohan is adept at offending almost everyone, mostly without trying.
So, is there a chance for redemption for these three?
Methinks the three should take a lesson from Downey - who got his first step towards redemption from Gibson, of all people - and keep a clean nose and profile. Stay out of trouble and accept any help or job that comes his or her way, and one day they may play a character or write a song that begins to embody their perceived positive personality changes. Do that, and all will be forgiven. Could happen. But it's doubtful.
Maybe they can make a resolution this year that puts them on the right track.
In sports, athletes seeking redemption have the field and the game to pull them through tough times. America pulled for former drug addict and minor league flop Josh Hamilton throughout this past season, hoping he would stay sober and stay on the field. He did them one better, and made it to the World Series and won an MVP along the way. An underdog story all the way, his crimes and offenses only served to harm himself - the necessary accumen for those seeking redemption, and he was welcomed into the hearts of Americans and baseball fans everywhere.
Could Michael Vick, a man who has clearly placed himself in the MVP race in the NFL this year, ever find the same redemptive reception? Doubtful. While Hamilton hurt only himself, Vick famously destroyed the lives of Man's Best Friends, and therefore may never be given that which he obviously needs - a welcome handshake from Middle America. I wonder if society will continue to accept him more as he succeeds on the field? Watch and see...
|Space Capone at Capone's|
|Space Capone made a landing and performed at Capone's in Johnson City, TN.|