Raise your hand if you thought “Full House” and “Desperate Housewives” would make their way into the national headlines this week.
Granted, our unnatural and unhealthy obsession with all things celebrity does force questionable items into our national consciousness on a daily basis (Old-man question: What is a Kardashian, and is it contagious?).
We have elected celebrities into public office, ranging from our current POTUS to Gopher from “Love Boat” being a member of the United States House of Representatives. We have named our children after famous people, modeled our hairstyles after actors and actresses (“Who loves you, baby?”) and become all-too emotionaly invested in athletes who move on to new teams or decide to retire to the company of their families.
There have been numerous magazines, television shows and podcasts created just to feed our hunger for more celebrity gossip or trivia, and there are no obvious signs that this is slowing down any time soon. From the “It” girls and “Hollywood-handsome” male stars of past generations to the Instagram girls and reality-show celebrities of today, we have placed those we deem “famous” to be superior to the rest of us.
Until they fall. And then... we pounce.
Oh, there’s only one thing we as Americans love better than building someone up, and that is tearing them to pieces on their way back down. It is as much of the fiber of our culture as baseball, apple pie and maxed-out lines of credit.
We always root for the next best thing to capture our imagination, but then we fault them for becoming, well, the next best thing. We waited breathlessly for Tiger Woods and LeBron James to arrive to the professional scene in their respective sports to see if they could fulfill their promise and dominate against the best the world has to offer, and then we quickly turned to condemn them and minimalize their work, even if they did every thing we could have ever hoped from them.
Now, it’s certainly fair to say that Tiger brought on some of his own heat from the public through some of his personal behavior, but... nah, there is no “but” here. He did. He’ll admit that. But he’s also not alone.
At the beginning of this column, we talked about “Full House” and “Desperate Housewives” being back in the news this week. Actresses Felicity Huffman (“Housewives”) and Lori Loughlin (“Full House”) were among more than 40 people charged in what is being called the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” according to an article in TheHill.com.
According to reports, the “scam” involved getting prospective students admitted to universities as athletic recruits — even if the students did not play sports — through bribery, and paying people to help cheat on college entrance exams.
William Rick Singer was the central figure in the scheme, according to an article on CNN.com. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling described two kinds of fraud that Singer was selling to wealthy people.
“One was to cheat on the SAT or ACT, and the other was to use his connections with Division I coaches and use bribes to get these parents’ kids into school with fake athletic credentials. Huffman, reportedly, payed $15,000 to Singer’s fake charity to facilitate cheating for her daughter on the SATs, according to the criminal complaint, and she was reportedly caught discussing it in a recorded phone call. Loughlin, who is facing charges along with her husband, designer Mossimo Gianulli, “allegedly agreed to pay bribes totalling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the University of Southern California (USC) crew team,” according to the CNN article.
By the way, neither daughter ever participated in crew, according to the complaint, and the parents sent Singer photos of each girl on a rowing machine.
A rowing machine.
Singer allegedly facilitated bribes to Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director at USC, who got the students recruited as athletes. USC said it has terminated Einel due to the charges.
Is this crazy to you? Because it’s absolutely nuts to me. And as much as it entertains me on the surface, it also infuriates me. What about the student-athletes who didn’t get assistance into college because these spots were bought and paid for? What about the regular students who don’t have parents who can afford to pay for the best tutors available? Why in the world would anybody bribe USC?
I mean, Harvard, sure. Heck, Stanford is a great institution on the west coast. But, USC? That’s like bribing an editor to get in the Coastal Point when...
Clearly, I’ve said too much.
It’s pretty gross how we elevate and then annihilate celebrities as a sort of sport in this nation. But sometimes it’s warranted. This is certainly one of those times.