Have you ever seen a falling star? Well, science says that it's not actually a star, but meteoroids that fall into Earth's atmosphere and burn. This is a great analogy for the many sexual harassment incidents and claims involving Hollywood stars such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K. Just this morning, I read that George Takei has been alleged to have sexually harassed a person some 40 years ago.
For many of us who enjoy House of Cards, Star Trek, or Louis C.K.'s comedy acts, we may have been struck with questions of how we both condemn the person while also enjoying their art. It really is troubling, especially with so many of us being avid entertainment consumers.
Can we separate the character portrayed on Netflix, movie, or civil rights movement (in the case of Takei), from the actor or the person behind it?
Granted, with Kevin Spacey it is a little easier for me to not watch of his work because I have been aware of his... behavior involving young men and minors.
With Louis C.K. and George Takei it has been admittedly harder to figure out what to do.
These acts committed by men in positions of power are heinous and should be condemned. My stomach turns when I hear stories of powerful gay men taking advantage of younger gay men - not that an older gay man being with a younger gay man is wrong. But when a position of power is used to influence, pressure, seduce, or coerce someone in a position of less power, I get a sick feeling in my gut.
Which brings me back to my analogy of "falling stars". They're not stars in the first place. They're merely rock and dust that burn up as they fall back down to earth.
These "stars" that have committed these acts... are we any different from them? Our behavior day-to-day, in bars, clubs, and social gatherings... we're all matter, rock, and dust that are as susceptible to committing the same acts within our circle of friends or networks as these stars are.
So if anything, this should embolden us to examine our own lives, how we treat others, and look at how we raise our kids. These "falling stars" help stir the pot and start conversations, but the conversation should bring about a movement to challenge societal assumptions about gender, gender roles, sexuality, sexual repression, emotional repression; and how we project, teach, and raise kids to be healthy and wholesome adults.
That said, how should we go about dealing with people we've elevated and placed on a pedestal? A boycott? What is the right response?
Please let me know your thoughts and leave a comment.
The 2016 election did more than just give us Trump. It unveiled and exposed deep rifts in both of America's mainstream political parties.
But this is not entirely unexpected. With each passing generation, there is this necessary tug-of-war between the old and new; that constant dialectic of Democracy. It's an internal dialogue of the struggle and identity a People; a Nation longing to be true to itself as it changes from one generation to the next.
What are we? What is America? What should America stand for? What should we stand for? What do we stand for? Who is WE?
These burning questions drive discourse, whether civil or uncivil; constructive or destructive.
A certain strain of discourse has arisen once again. It is certainly not new to American politics. Not entirely bad, but not entirely good, either. I suppose it all depends given the time and the circumstances. As the saying goes, "There is a season for everything."
There is a time for sitting across the table from someone ideologically opposed to you and there is a time to stand and fight for what you believe in.
But perhaps in this day and age we are all too willing to advance past dialogue to the point of collective demagoguery; made easier by tools that strip us of social cues and interaction.
We rush to take our sides and draw lines in the sand before we even fully realize whether what is approaching is an army pining after war or a delegation suing for peace.
Can a Democracy exist if a People are in a perpetual state of ideological civil war?
I think the answer is no.
This is not to say that we should not stand strongly for what is right and against what is wrong. I am merely suggesting that a winner-takes-all approach or scorched earth policy may not be entirely democratic.
For instance, when Maine passed a citizen's initiative to legalize same-sex marriage, equality proponents went beyond arguing simply that it was the right thing to do; they searched for a message and compelling reason why Mainers would be more open and accepting of gay marriage.
The approach changed from that of "right and wrong" to one that revealed to Mainers that their sons and daughters, relatives, neighbors, and friends are LGBTQ and only want to live their lives equal and free.
Gay marriage went from being an abstract concept of a constitutional right to something that was personal for the many Mainers who approved the measure. It became real to them. Someone close was hurt by discrimination and barred from liberties enjoyed by the rest of society. And, thus, it made complete and common sense that, yes, this was the right thing to do.
Winning hearts and minds is far more representative of Democracy than winning at all costs.
And that is why I believe that Democracy cannot exist without the willingness to find common ground.
Simply doing things to be right does not garner the consensus on which democracies are built; this touches upon the idea of the consent of the governed.
Doing things because they are right in a way that helps those of opposing viewpoints to appreciate the political and social morality of a certain course of action or policy is far more effective than simply beating people over the head.