Against publicizing private lives

“In one short decade we have been reconditioned to be entertained by the most private areas of other people’s lives. We’ve become the family dog who’s allowed to eat anything that falls on the floor, and the press is the little kid in the family who keeps dropping food.” Aaron Sorkin

Sorkin’s larger point is about the Newsweek brouhaha about gay actors playing straight characters, which I, personally, have no problem with. I think Sorkin has the right of it.

We, as a culture, are obsessed with reality TV and celebrity gossip. We spend way too much time thinking about, or even just being informed about the lives of people we don’t know and shouldn’t care about.

Sorkin mentions Sandra Bullock’s divorce, which I admit I have heard of. (I had no idea that there was a current person named Jesse James, though. Strange.) He’s right. We shouldn’t care much about what happens in Bullock’s life, unless we know her or are her friend. Yes, I know, most religions do say we are each others’ keepers, and I tend to agree with that, but in the case of someone so unconnected with me I’ll leave it to her friends to worry about, and also the laws of our country.

I don’t care that Rock Hudson was, or Neil Patrick Harris for that matter is, gay, except insofar as their being closeted or out tells us something about our society. I never met Hudson and am unlikely to meet Harris. They’re both fine actors. That’s the only material point.

Now to contradict myself, partially. I don’t tend to watch Mel Gibson movies, partly because he’s a homophobic jerk, but mostly because there’s a point of view expressed in the movies that I don’t care for. (Yes, I’ve seen Braveheart.) That’s one example among many.

And I don’t object to outing closeted gay people when their public actions are causing great harm to the LGBT community. I think that kind of hypocrisy is despicable.

But the larger point remains, only partially obscured by the fact of human existence being a messy thing. I think it’s rare to be able to make blanket judgments of actions that could be taken in an abstract situation.

Anyway, these are just some random thoughts on the subject, based on seeing Sorkin’s article and seeing several people lift the same quote I did from it. In closing, I leave you with Walt Whitman:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
    Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

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