When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Freddy Mercury from Queen. I didn’t want to marry him or anything (that was Peter Frampton); it was more like I wanted to be him. Well, in a female, Midwest, middle-class, non-flamboyant way. I liked that he did what he wanted to do despite being somewhat shy.
I went to a Queen concert and came home with one of my most prized possessions: a flower stem. Freddy used to throw out arm-loads of carnations at the end of the concert, and I had found a head-less stem on the floor and taken possession. My dad was confused.
Dad: “But it doesn’t have a flower on it.”
Me: (sighing heavily) “Dad, the flower part doesn’t matter. What part would his hand have touched? The stem!”
I got a shadow box and mounted a picture of Queen and the concert ticket and the stem on the wall. My dad remained confused.
But by the time I was out of high school, I had already figured out that hero worship was kind of … annoying. No, degrading to the person doing the worship. Freddy was a great musician, a great singer. But as a person, he was no different than me. Why should I put him on a pedestal above myself?
And so I’m a little mystified when I see the cult of personality surrounding President Obama. When I see people crying and talking about him like he’s the most amazing thing in the world, not based on what he has done but on who he is, when they put him on a pedestal and forgive things they wouldn’t with any other politician, I too remain confused.
The fact is, I don’t trust anyone. I assume that every politician can screw up and do things that aren’t kosher. I assume that power corrupts. I assume that if we don’t watch our government officials like a hawk — especially the media — we will one day wake up calling someone Your Majesty. I will never participate in a cult of personality for anyone, especially a politician. That way lies madness; that way lies dictatorship.
So those commercials that show like 80 famous people telling me to vote for President Obama do absolutely nothing for me. In fact, they probably hurt his chances with me. I take it as an insult. Why would I give a flying damn who Scarlett Johannson thinks I should vote for? Who the hell is that, anyway? I’m 50 damn years old. I don’t need some little twit telling me what to do.
In general, I don’t put a lot of store in what actors and musicians think. I prefer they stay on the screen or the stage and shut the eff up.
I’m going to vote for Mitt Romney, but let me tell you, I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him either. I will watch him like a hawk, and if he screws up, I will impeach his ass before you can say “watergate” or “monica lewinski.”
A cult of personality is dangerous. Worshipping a politician as a celebrity is even more dangerous. These guys work for us. We employ them. We hire them; we fire them. We certainly don’t worship them. When it comes to politicians, I say, trust no one.