Celebrities behaving badly just get more ink
OK, I can’t put it off. I’m retiring from figure skating. My body can’t do it anymore. What? I can’t hear you. I’m beginning to get the impression you don’t care.I believe this column is going to be about whether celebrities and the rich are more ill-behaved than the rest of us. That said, I think figure skater Michele Kwan, who chose to drop out of the Olympics, might be an example of a celebrity behaving far better than the rest of us. It’s clear that in our culture the job description of an athlete, or any type of celebrity, is constantly blurring and shifting. Simply being good at your profession, the thing you get paid to do, isn’t enough. Your second job is being able to handle the media like a seasoned politician. It takes career politicians decades and decades to perfect their bullshit and lies, and that’s their job. These other people are expected to get good at it as a sideline, in addition to their day job. At least we’re not so completely jaded that we’re not impressed when a young athlete shows a remarkable amount of maturity, poise and grace. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, though, we’ve set unrealistically high standards when it comes to our expectations for the rest of these folks.I watched the Bode Miller interview on “60 Minutes” and, at the time, didn’t notice any shocking faux pas. It wasn’t until the following day, after his performance had been analyzed, rerun, replayed in slow motion, and the media had jumped all over it, that I gave it a second thought. I think the head of the FIS had the best perspective on the situation when he simply said something to the effect that, “There’s no IQ requirement to be a ski racer.” Big deal, the kid said something dumb, so what? I didn’t even get the impression that Miller was anything but perfectly bright, he just didn’t have the media savvy we’ve come to demand. He paid the price, but it’s amazing that it doesn’t happen a lot more often. Luckily, for every Terell Owens type, there’s a bunch of guys who have the good sense to just keep their mouths shut.Now that the Olympics are in full swing, we’ll have plenty of chances to observe both prima donnas and regular Joes. So far the snowboarders are my favorites. They seem to be having a lot more fun than anyone else. By comparison, most of the established alpine racers look like a bunch of uptight businessmen. Can you imagine stars of the traditional events being willing to share the spotlight with snowmobiles and motorcycles, as the shredders do in the X Games? I can’t see it. Good luck to all of them when it comes to facing the media after the race is over.Back here in the Roaring Fork Valley, we have our own behavior issues to cope with. The situation with the private-jet owners grumbling about the lack of parking at the airport has been well-documented. I’ve gone on record as feeling that this belongs in the bad behavior column.And then there’s the barber who allegedly stole Kevin Costner’s laptop? Apparently he was disgruntled because Costner’s people weren’t treating him enough like a celebrity. Personally, I have a little problem with the “barber as celebrity” concept. When I get my hair cut, if I end up looking like Uday Hussein, I consider it a job well-done and there’s a tip. I guess I should get out more. It seems these uptown barbers are making an enormous contribution to Western civilization and I didn’t even know it. The last thing I’d want to do is hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’m afraid I have to put the allegedly thieving barber’s behavior in the regular person behaving badly column, and Costner, the actual celebrity, who as far as I know has had no comment on the matter, in the good behavior column.Of course Christmas is the best time to observe bad behavior among the rich and famous, and the rest of us, too. The private-jet flap occurred over Christmas. That same week the St. Regis Hotel, arguably Aspen’s fanciest joint, played host to some Latin American singing star. The local media described him as being the recipient of a number of Grammy Awards, but I don’t know anyone who’s ever heard of him. What can I say? In Woody Creek, we don’t even know barbers are celebrities. I guess some drunk came up to him in the bar and proceeded to be obnoxious. Chalk that one up to regular folks behaving badly. Unfortunately, the singer guy responded by expecting his bodyguard to punch out the drunk and the bartender, even though it wasn’t a physical-threat sort of situation. We know which column the singer goes in, but we have to put the bodyguard in the regular people behaving well column for refusing to do it. I’m glad these people don’t try to pull this stuff at the Woody Creek Tavern. Then again …All I can conclude is that the famous and the rich, when taken as a whole, probably aren’t any better or worse than the rest of us. They just get more ink.
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Amid the pre-Thanksgiving gloom of grim pandemic news here in Aspen, across Colorado and the mountain west came a small but significant dose of hope in the unlikely form of an Aspen Music Festival and School announcement.