The Ottumwa Courier

Columns

February 4, 2013

Oprah’s couch is waiting

OTTUMWA — Lance Armstrong lies, John Edwards' alibis. Scientology’s Cruise, lots to lose. Mel Gibson’s rants, Tiger played. Pete Rose gambled, Arnold’s maid.

Michael Jackson was strange, Howard Dean’s schtick. Gary Hart dared, a doggoned Michael Vick.

Britney Spears, Don Imus — ouch! Confession night on Oprah’s couch.

Fame and fortune on a yacht. It all falls apart when getting caught!

Carefully-crafted images suddenly break. Te’o’s dead girlfriend turns out to be fake.

Michael Richards (Kramer)  places foot in mouth.  Charlie Sheen’s “winning” slogan heading south.

O.J.’s glove, Jim Tressel’s sweaters.  Bernard Madoff’s scheme, Nixon’s letters.

Gen. Petraeus’ surge on women fails. S.C.’s love-sick governor hits the trails.

Polished  images end in scandal. Public relations managers poorly handle.

Elvis’ drugs ruled the King. Clinton’s affair caught in a sting.

Lindsay Lohan keeps stumbling in strife. Suzy Favor Hamilton lives a double life.

Sad scandals keep shooting down our stars. Each one seems more and more bizarre.

Crooked deals, performance-enhancing drugs. Promiscuity and lying while receiving hugs.

Cheating and lying while looking the public in the eye. Our stars finally come clean  — they’ve been living a lie!

[Chorus]

We didn’t start the fire.

Falling stars have been burning ...

Since the world’s been turning.

We didn’t start the fire.

We’ve just innocently watched ...

As images were shockingly botched.

We didn’t start the fire.

They’ve been falling from grace ...

Trailing off in disgrace.

Fallen stars, too many, too often

Move over Lance, Oprah’s couch could get company.

Oprah’s got a new gig — and plenty of celebrities who have fallen from grace need her help ... to confess and rehabilitate their tattered images.

As Lance Armstrong confessed to years of doping and denials, suing people who told the truth about him, a perplexed public tried to make sense of it all.

This celebrity who had beaten cancer and won the Tour de France seven times had done enormous good leading the charge against one of humanity’s greatest challenges. He had also bullied and ruined people’s lives to protect his lie. A complex mixed bag to be sure.

A couple of weeks ago, it appeared to be confession night with the second night of Armstrong’s interview on Oprah and Manti Te’o doing an off-camera interview on ESPN on his fake girlfriend who died of cancer and the national inspiration it captured.

SportsCenter used to be about sports

I remember when SportsCenter used to cover sports and its power-playing suits. Now half of it is on scandals and contract disputes.

The scandals seem to be so commonplace anymore, we become uncomfortably numb. You can set your watch by it: Our hero celebrities keep falling one by one.

Our hero celebrities with their carefully crafted public images fall to earth, burning up in the media and public’s atmosphere. Eventually their public images hit the lowest, darkest, loneliest valleys the landscape has to offer. After reaching unfathomable heights of success and public adoration, something happens. They get caught!

24-7 media

There are far too many falling stars in recent times ... perhaps because of the 24-7 media scrutiny, social media like twitter, phone cameras and instant gossip. It’s simply harder to keep a secret these days. Decades of carefully crafting an image can be undone in a shooting-star second.

These stars get caught red-handed making warped decisions and taking ill-fated actions that cannot be rehabilitated, at least not in the short-term. They may get caught repeatedly cheating on a spouse, or using  performance-enhancement drugs and lying about it for years, caught in a scene beyond the pale, caught in an unforgivable rant ... the web of scandals out there is wide-ranging and sticky. Suddenly their god-like images are no more, their iron-clad grip of control is lost and public perception is permanently reversed. Who else, besides Lance, has fallen from great heights, and may be looking for an Oprah interview?

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