Even in this selfie-snapping, you’re-special culture of ours, reports that acquitted murder suspect George Zimmerman has signed on with a promoter to take part in “celebrity” boxing matches are disconcerting on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Perhaps this works as a starting point:
It’s been clear for some time that what now qualifies as celebrity has very little to do with talent, pluck, drive, ambition, or any of those other Broadway-baby adjectives.
Who needs Shirley Temple when you have a Honey Boo Boo?
Apparently, to be famous today, you need only to wait your turn. So much the better if you’re willful, reckless and narcissistic.
There were initial reports that Zimmerman would fight troubled rap artist DMX, who has been in more sets of handcuffs than Harry Houdini.
The match was spiked, probably because even DMX, in his mad genius, produces a form of art and has a brand to protect.
Classifying Zimmerman as a “celebrity” because of his fatal run-in with a teenager and his subsequent domestic violence arrests defies decency.
But this isn’t really about decency, is it?
That Zimmerman would consider cashing in on his infamy, rather than try to rebuild a private life, is, for many people, like a thumb in the eye. It diminishes a tragedy that laid bare racial, political and class resentments that lashed us all like an arcing wire.
It also showed how the consequences of our blunders can reach far into our lives. When George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, two lives were destroyed that night. But the idea that Zimmerman now is some kind of “celebrity” because of it, and his spectacularly bad decision to make money from it, couldn’t be more egregious.
Such spectacle conveys the message that what happened was no biggie.
Some of the fault for this tawdry turn of events must be laid at our feet. We feed and foster faux celebrity whenever we give time and attention to people who’ve done nothing of value to earn it.
Fame is seductive because it promises that our life’s path will be made easier. We hold the famous in higher regard than people we know, which only encourages ordinary people to wallow in audacious and base behavior in the hopes that they, too, will become objects of our affection.
There’s no end to what people will do to be famous. If Zimmerman is really looking for a fight, “Octomom” could always use a paycheck.
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP.