Entertainers and celebrities have always been made fun of. The old term use to be lampooned.
Dating back to stars like Fatty Arbuckle to Liza Mineli. John Belushi to Kurt Cobain. Janis Joplin to the recent death of Michael Jackson. Alive or dead, if you were/are a celebrity and struggled publicly with addiction, chances are very good you too have been made fun of. Laughed at and ridiculed. It's what we do.
We laugh at those that seem to be out of control. Whether it be a fat person that can't control their eating, such as a Rosanne Barr or Chris Farley. Or those that seems to play along with being an alcoholic, such as Dean Martin. We have the sex addicts that will put chasing a 15 second orgasm ahead of their careers and marriages. Tiger Woods can speak to that quite well. Then there are those that are clearly battling not just a substance abuse but mental issues as well, they too are not spared by our pokes of humor at their expense. The star that epitomizes this category is none other than Charlie Sheen. Who among us can forget watching this man disintegrate before our very eyes. And much like a car crash on the side of a highway, we couldn't help but slow down a little and stare in amazement.
So many of us will deny it, however there is a certain sick and twisted glee some people feel in seeing those that are rich and famous struggle with demons. It is almost as if we revert back to middle school and the rich kid trips and falls in the lunch room. Her expensive clothes destroyed by the spaghetti sauce that is now covering her from head to toe. "She may be rich....but look at how she looks like a fool....ha!" Instead of an actual trip and fall, many of the celebrities and notables we make fun of today, they have emotional trips and falls. In watching their marriages, families, careers and finances come apart at the seams, as they are reduced in stature by their issues, it makes some of us feel more superior. "I may be poor, but at least I'm not Demi Moore or Lindsay Lohan...." There are millions of people that find comfort in making comparisons to others lives.
And we laugh at them.
There are some comedic swipes that leave us feeling uncomfortable in laughing at someone's issues. I have seen shows that feature comedy about Michael Jackson's pedophilia acts (alleged) that I can't bring myself to laugh at. I don't see that as funny. Yet others that poke fun at his hair catching on fire or his addiction to medications that leave me in tears with laughter. Charlie Sheen was a celebrity that I found very difficult to laugh at. For me it was like watching a man commit suicide in front of me. It was like a man desperately crying out for help only to a see a sea of smiling and laughing faces. Winning! for me was never something I saw as funny.
Now we have Whitney Houston. True, as of today we do not know how or why she died, but we can definitely speculate. Years and years of comedian after comedian have made some truly hilarious comedy about her drug use and abuse. However, I would say she made it easy for them. The same rings true for her now divorced husband Bobby Brown. He is a drug addict that countless people laugh at and his for some reason is less funny to me. I don't know why.
Is this yet again another example of how we treat the rich and famous different? Why can we so easily laugh at Whitney Houston's addition but not someone we know intimately? The root cause of their draw to drugs, alcohol, sex or gambling are happening for the exact same reasons as those we are close to and love.
If your brother or sister were battling with an addiction to pain killers, crack cocaine or heroin. In and out of treatment centers and you were in a position to bare witness to the devastation addiction can have on finances, family and work life, would you laugh at them? Would it be funny to see how out of control they can be? When you view photos of them at their worst, does it make you smile? I know it doesn't for me. And I have had and still do have, family members that are coping with addiction on varying levels.
We all, every single one of us have had or have someone in our families that addiction has touched. I can make such a blanket statement because addiction is everywhere. No family is immune from it. You can't pray it away to keep it from touching your family. It isn't something that only the "poor" have to deal with. Wealth (as we have seen far too often) does not shield you from it. How the rich treat it may take place in lush and swanky facilities, however the act of purging it from your mind and body is no different than the junkie from the ghetto in a basement of a church. Only the four walls that surrounds them differs.
This is not meant to be an attack on those of us that laugh at celebrities and notable that have addictions. It is more so a seed to be planted in our minds that asks.....why do we laugh? I think in getting to the root of that question it will reveal far more about our own motives and beliefs, than we are willing to admit to ourselves.