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Does David Letterman’s Behavior Really Surprise Us?

October 8, 2009

 

Letterman

David Letterman’s tale of being extorted is all over the news this week.  We are shocked at the “made-for-TV” movie happenings.  Joe Halderman’s extortion.  The sting operation with the NY district attorney.  Letterman’s public telling of the story, spin, and apologies.  We are dying for more. 

The real story, however, is his affair with Stephanie Birkitt and “other” women at Late Show.  Part of our shock is that a public figure we generally admire was cheating on his long-time girlfriend (and now wife) Regina Lasko.  But are we really surprised that this happened to another public figure? 

It seems that every month another public figure is getting found out.  South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.  New York Governor Elliott Spitzer.  Former presidential candidate John Edwards.  Not to mention all the Hollywood headlines. 

Here are some thoughts about public figures falling:

1.  WE IMAGINE PUBLIC FIGURES HAVE PERFECT LIVES
We only see the image of a public figure.  TV personalities, actors, politicians, and even ministers are different when they are on display.  They portray the best image of themselves.  We come to accept the image as reality.  So it’s shocking to find out that celebrities don’t have perfect lives.  Look at Jon and Kate Gosselin.  Who knew how bad things really were inside.  Images can be so deceiving and manipulative.    

 

2.  WE ADMIRE PUBLIC FIGURES AND WISH WE WERE LIKE THEM
Some people fanaticize about being on American Idol or Dancing With the Stars.  Some dream about what it would be like to be in the movies.  Some idolize rock stars and wish they had their lifestyle.  Many of our idols and public figures have the careers, money, power and influence we dream about having.  This sets us up for disappointment when they prove to be otherwise. 

 

3.  PUBLIC FIGURES ARE JUST AS HUMAN (AND SINFUL) AS WE ARE
All of us suffer and struggle with our humanity.  All of us are born with a sinful nature and choose to go our own way apart from God’s plan.  Public figures have junk just like you and me.  They have messed up marriages, relationship problems, addictions, and doubts like all of us. 

 

4.  YOU RARELY SEE A PUBLIC FIGURE LIVING AN AUTHENTIC, OPEN LIFE IN PUBLIC
A public figure works hard to maintain their image.  They are pressured to look a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way.  If we saw the real person behind the public image we would see many parallels to our own lives.  I’m not a fan of Tyra Banks, but she has done shows with no makeup or no hair extensions to show her true self.  Dove Soap has capitalized on commercials with real, natural looking women.  But these examples are rare.  Seeing Letterman with his junk aired out on TV is a  hard glimpse at who he really is as a person.

 

shame5.  WHEN PUBLIC FIGURES FALL WE KIND OF FEEL BETTER ABOUT OURSELVES, DON’T WE?
We are quick to compare ourselves to people who have failed.  It makes us feel a little self-righteous.  We have sound judgment, but they sure don’t.  We think we are living good, moral, wholesome lives and they aren’t.  We are quick to judge, and very slow to look at ourselves.

The Bible encourages us to be discerning of our own lives.  It encourages us to be the judges of ourselves first.  “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but don’t notice the long in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

 

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