We make heroes and superstars of people who make little or no meaningful contribution to others in their work. The only value they provide is entertainment. Entertainment! That’s it! Yet we put them on a pedestal and pay them ridiculous amounts of money for amusing us.
“Entertainment consists of any activity that provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time.” – Wikipedia
Just before the fall of Rome, the Romans continually sought greater and more elaborate forms of entertainment. One of the most famous was the fights that took place in the Coliseum between men, and men and beasts. These “shows” usually ended in mutilation or death.
Do the dogfights, chicken fights, and human cage fights of today resemble this practice? Do the publicly attended torture, mutilation, and execution of so-called dissidents in dictatorial societies resemble this practice?
These are extreme examples, but we can learn from them. That’s the value of studying history. We want to advance the good parts and abolish the bad stuff.
Pseudo Heroes & Superstars
Who are the people that we make heroes and superstars? They are actors who “pretend” that they are someone else. They act!
Act 4: To put on a false show; pretend. American Heritage Dictionary.
There are many actors who tell inspiring stories through their movies and are outstanding people in their private lives. But is their performance really worth 10’s of millions of dollars in salary for a single 90-120 minute movie?
They are the physically gifted athletes who PLAY football, baseball, basketball, tennis, hockey, soccer, rugby, cricket, lacrosse, and all the other sports. Many athletes work extremely hard to develop the skills required to lead their sport. Their discipline and drive is a good example for others to use in many areas of their own lives. But are their efforts truly worth the amount of money that enables them to retire in exquisite luxury in their late 30’s or early 40’s?
Some athletes have physical size advantages that make it seem a little unfair. In comparison to an average height person, how hard can it be for a person who is nearly or over seven feet tall to make a basket? I guarantee you that if I was seven feet tall and someone was willing to pay me 100 million dollars to put a ball into a basket that was a few inches away from my reach, I would definitely get it done! And so would you.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy watching sports, particularly football and tennis. But I don’t devote huge chucks of my time to being a spectator.
A better use of your time is playing a sport that you enjoy. This would improve your health and mind whereas being a spectator provides few benefits, unless you consider a beer belly an advantage.
Music is another area where we put people on a pedestal because of their ability to create and sing or rap a 3-4 minute song. I love music. It has the ability to move, comfort, and inspire people in both positive and negative ways. I just question whether their incredibility high incomes are equal to the value that they are providing.
I acknowledge the fact that some actors, athletes, and singers are very generous in giving back to society through various charities. This isn’t the issue.
Here’s the point: Why should a few gifted actors, athletes, and musicians live in absolute luxury while those who make the greatest direct contributions toward the betterment of our individual lives and society be paid meager salaries? And why do we make these people our heroes over those who are much more deserving of our admiration?
It’s Not Your Fault
We are taught through movie, sports, and music advertising that these forms of entertainment will give us the excitement, fulfillment, and joy that we desire. We hear, read, and watch these advertisements throughout our lives to such an extent that we’ve come to accept these activities as the ones that will bring us the most joy.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Which of these would give you more lasting fulfillment, self-esteem, and joy? 1.) Watching your hero make the winning touchdown in the final minutes of the Super Bowl or hitting a hole-in-one with your golfing buddies looking on? 2.) Watching your hero turn his life around in his latest movie or looking back on how you turned your own life around?
The Real Heroes & Superstars
Things seem backwards in terms of whom we admire as heroes and reward with high salaries. This not only happens in the movie, sports, and music industry, but it also happens with those who manage our health and money.
I think that medical doctors and surgeons deserve to be paid well. But do they deserve to make millions from the pain and suffering of others? I know that most doctors enter the medical profession with good intentions. But the system encourages inflated prices and money grabbing.
The same is true of the financial sector. Stockbrokers, bankers, and credit card company executives make millions through our ignorant and careless money management practices. And they do it whether we make or lose money.
Which professions deserve a salary that is more inline with the value they provide to us? I’d say that teachers, professors, cancer (and other debilitating diseases) researchers, green energy innovators, police officers, and firefighters. There are many more, but I am sure you get the idea.
The people in these professions are grossly under paid in comparison to what we expect them to provide. They should be paid according to what we want to receive. They should also be offered incentives to encourage innovation and reward hard work.
I’d also add military personnel to my list of those who should receive a higher salary, but with a few conditions. I’d recommend setting up rank advancements, salary increases, and incentives in a way that encourages peaceful actions over war.
Who are Your True Heroes
If we make a hero of someone who can act like someone else, play a sport, or sing a song, we are placing a greater value on these activities over those that bring true value to our family, the world, and ourselves.
Entertainment should not be valued greater than education, fitness, and economic and environmental health.
The best way to measure the true value of a hero is in how much their efforts have a direct impact on your life on a daily basis, and especially when you’re going through a hard time.
Your true heroes are probably a lot closer to home. Perhaps one or more of them is your father, mother, sibling, teacher, coach, or community leader. Invest your hero worship in them. Your dividends will be infinity greater.
Maybe your true heroes extend to the national level. President Obama is one of mine. He’s not one of my heroes because he became president. He’s one of my heroes because of the path of service to others he chose before being elected. He didn’t go after the money. He went after a cause greater than himself and this is why he succeeded.
I am always amazed when people idolize someone like Donald Trump. He’s the quintessential example of a self-serving, cut them up before they cut you, person. The humble and humanistic Richard Branson (Virgin) is the kind of billionaire that I admire.