I find myself contemplating Kobe Bryant today. By itself this is unusual. I really don’t devote any interest or energy in following sports, but I find I’m interested in his situation nonetheless. Further, I find that I feel sorry for him. Let me clarify that at a minimum he was guilty of some seriously bad judgement. (I can’t help but think that his alleged victim was minimally guilty of equally poor judgement.) Kobe may also be guilty of a felony. I don’t know. But why I feel sorry for him is that it no longer really matters whether he’s guilty of more or not.
We are increasingly a society where people of any amount of celebrity are tried by the over-zealous media long before they ever get a day in court. Yet I’m hard pressed to vilify the media for this. The fault ultimately lies with the public. If there were no market for the scandal, there would be no circus surrounding it. The technologies of mass communication and virtual reality have brought us to a point where fiction is no longer sufficiently stimulating. So-called Reality TV is successful precisely because there is a believability to it, regardless of how outrageous it is. Similar known fictional situations would not last the week in the ratings.
And perhaps the hypocrisy of people is the hardest to take. I can no longer count the number of people who admit to me how ludicrous things like Reality TV and media crucifixions are, and in their second breath tell me how they just can’t help themselves though. They have to watch. They have to read. The cruel realities of capitalism are that business will arise to fill that void. The guilt lies with those of us who create that void in the first place. Shame on us.