Monday, September 26, 2011

A Farewell to Kings?

So, on a non-Vietnamese note, I just finished watching the movie, "The King's Speech", and while it was a good film, it got me thinking about how stupid people are.  Most things probably do get me thinking about that eventually.  But a thought I couldn't help thinking throughout the movie was, 'Why does anyone give a shit about the king?'  Now, that's probably just my American upbringing, combined with a healthy dislike of authority, but really, what's the deal with kings?  I mean, it was one thing 400 years ago when you didn't have much of a choice because we are all dirt farming peasants under the control of some guy who controled a lot of bloodthirsty goons in armor, but today?  Still? 

I know, I know, 'But it's a national symbol, etc' but haven't we outgrown all that?  Hell, the bald eagle is a  national symbol of the USA, and our patriots shot the damn thing to near extinction.  Yeah, we're done with our kings, but we've replaced them with our Hiltons and Oprahs.  Which makes me think, it must be something attached to the human condition to make us worship people we don't know.  Kings and celebrities could never exist unless we wanted them to exist.  Unless we make them real, they don't exist.  And why do we need them?  Do we need to always gaze at someone or something we imagine better than ourselves?  A king, a rock star, a religious icon, a sports figure, they're all versions of the same thing.  And chances are, if we knew them personally, without all the bullshit cult of personality stuff, we most likely wouldn't think they're that great.  Not anymore than you idolize your neighbor or coworker.  Not bad people by most accounts, but worthy of a poster with their smiling face in our bedrooms?  Not likely.

So, why do we put up with that from others?  Is it because everyone else worships them, and like insanity, it's amplified by a crowd?  I've met a few minor celebrities who I didn't even really care about, but when I met them, I even felt that "wow, I can't believe I'm talking to X", like a kid.  Is it because we think we're not as good as them?  That they possess some special magic that apparently everyone else has given them, so we should too?  It must be something pretty deep in us as a breed.  Maybe some mass-cultural desire for a Great Father or Mother figure, some figure of overwhelming wisdom and perfection.

There's been social movements and even other Great Father figures who've encouraged us to smash our Great Fathers.  Most of them started in a bloodbath of anger and revenge for duping ourselves.  The French filled the streets of Paris with their royal blood, the Russians, Chinese, Americans, and Vietnamese amongst countless others have all seen it fit at one time or another to murder their Great Ones, and within a few years, return apologetically with our hats in our hands, asking for their forgiveness.  The King is dead, long live the King.  Replace one with another.

So, will this combination of idolation of strangers and loathing of ourselves and our neighbors be an eternal cycle repeated throughoutt history, or will there come a time when we finally get tired of paying attention to the lives of others, and start focusing on our own lives?  Will there come a time when when we look to ourselves for the answers to the questions only we can answer?  Maybe, but probably not for a long time if even a cynical bastard like myself can get star struck... 

1 comment:

  1. "A provocative exploration of celebrity and the human condition." - Team Intellect