Recently I was assailed in the comments under a Bob Marley meme someone posted about being hippies and disregarding the sway that money has over our society.
I responded by pointing out that it’s easy for Bob Marley to talk about de-emphasizing money, because he was rich as shit when he died, and besides, most quotes in memes are false. I was greeted by an unreasonably angry response by some white American kid explaining to me how awesome Bob Marley’s music was and how much charity he did and how ignorant my Bahamian Historian ass is because apparently I already didn’t know these things. Because that guy is the only person know knows things.
I was tempted to respond to this hilarious incident of whitesplaining but I didn’t, because fuck that guy, he’s an idiot. But it did get me thinking about how personally and irrational people get nowadays when you question anything about their idols.
Let’s look at this incident for example. I didn’t say that Bob wasn’t a great guy who did charity and fought for the little guy. He sure as hell stood up for people who needed him at great personal risk to himself and his family (families?). But he was also a guy worth an estimated $30 million who loved to ejaculate in beautiful women. He can be both because he was a human, and humans are complicated. And quite frankly if we had a choice, we would all be rich and have sex with beautiful people because that’s a great way to live. Fuck that hippie bullshit.
It’s okay to question conventional thinking about our idols. As a matter of fact it’s imperative that we do. Infallible ubermensches didn’t propel society forward in our darkest hours, flawed human beings did. Lincoln was a fuck-up who suffered from depression and anxiety and he ended slavery and kept his country from destroying itself, Stalin was a drunk asshole with a genocidal bent but he punched the Nazi war machine square in the dick when his country was about to be overran, Gandhi was a racist who helped to lay the foundation for the apartheid state in South Africa before he carried on the fight against British colonialism and oppression in his native India. Bob Marley was a bit of a hypocrite but he also rallied the world speaking out against the forces of capitalism that were looking to exploit Jamaica in his day (if he could only see his family now).
We’re all flawed, we’re all screwups, but there may be a time when we need to step up and be amazing or stop our worlds from falling apart. We’re going to have to know that we’re just as capable of doing that as the people we look up to.
We need to know that as flawed as we are we can be someone’s hero.