Where have all the heroes gone?

Ryan Szymczak

Whatever happened to the real American hero? You know, that wholesome individual or group thereof that sets the mass-accepted precedent of living a fruitful and honest American dream of success, whose values and life practices are admirable, and who Generation Next can look to for a hint of the right direction.

For a long time now, boys have looked to and aspired to become professional athletes, while young girls have, at one time or another, had their eyes set on pop star status.

Now what do they have?

Well, the boys can find MLB’s soon-to-be-crowned “home run king” Barry Bonds in daily candid interviews evading the question of how his arms became tree trunks practically overnight. While his lips were sealed, he just signed a $15 million, one-year contract amid all the speculation, proving that even if you cheat and dodge that fact, you can still prosper.

And when it comes to girls, how do they cope with the fact that somewhere, the highly celebrated “pop princess” is attempting to find herself, perhaps by doing some chanting to re-harness her chi in a bright orange kimono, and sporting that odd new ‘do, some freshly inked tattoos and a fistful of morning-after regrets to come.

The media is asking why and providing the answer, too: drugs.

Yes kids, your rich and celebrated heroes and heroines are being accused of major drug use. This should be a concern, considering a study in the Human Communication Research journal that states “75 percent of young adults had, at some time in their lives, a strong attraction to a celebrity, and 59 percent of the young people under study stated that their idols had influenced some aspect of their attitudes and beliefs.”

As much as I resent the number of zeroes on any celebrity’s or athlete’s paycheck, I can’t help but point the finger of blame at society itself. I can’t comprehend how simple-minded and unevolved the collective whole has to be to give so much focus to the topics that matter least.

We’re thirsty vampires for anything celebrity, and we feast viciously on any fall from grace.

The public eye will burn a hole right through your soul if your skin isn’t thick. Just ask Pedro. He nearly botched his political campaign when the pressure became so much that he ‘speared out’ and buzzed his head. Had it not been for Napoleon’s sweet moves in those timeless Velcro boots, then damn, it might’ve been summer all year long. Audiences were satisfied to see the popular girl lose, as they often are when those on top take a tumble.

I can’t exempt myself from gazing in awe at Britney’s cue-ball at least once a day.

I just can’t help it.

It’s everywhere.

It’s entirely unavoidable. I click to any channel, surf to any Web site and there’s that spoiled peach with a robotic blank stare, Red Bull and lit cigarette in hand.

Newsrooms are calling in the doctors to let the “psycho-analyzing” begin on national TV. They’ll focus on how the pop princess probably popped pills and was nose-deep in some hardcore drugs. They’ll be milking this long after Brit’s hair grows back. And the “E! True Hollywood Story: Britney’s Meltdown” is just around the corner.

Britney’s people will undoubtedly get the best public relations money can buy in hopes of pulling off a Drew Barrymore-type career resurrection. A wealthy Barry Bonds will trot around the bases victoriously this year with his enhanced elephant arms in tow. And kids across America will realize that while the use of drugs is controversial and discouraged by the authorities they often resent, record-sellers and record-setters used them, and they’re millionaires nonetheless.

Ryan Szymczak is a junior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].