Why Demonizing a Hero Backfires
Unless you’re human about it
Here’s the thing, the aftermath of the horrifying breaking news has left most of us in shambles. For me, it’s similar to mental disarray, as I fail to imagine the level of trauma that has been exacted on formerly intact families, that have been cruelly separated by life’s betrayals.
The worshipped hero of one of this country’s cherished sports, who was elevated to unattainable heights through immeasurable talent, and the unyielding promise to give back to younger generations and super fans, was brutally taken away, alongside his baby girl, and seven others.
Even before the breaking news settled in, and as circulating rumors threatened the worse, something even worse was transpiring in the form of shared clips from long ago, highlighting damning controversies that were meant to willfully shame the stunned crowd of mourners for the audacity of expressing growing pain and shock.
The sentiment was the assignment of cutting though utter chaos with the bulldozer of judgement against the newly dead in an effort to redirect the sorrow back to those who are triggered by the makeshift shrine in progress.
Those actions in the middle of an unfolding horror story, that may or may not include his four girls, or maybe just one of them, ended in temporary suspension, which drew ire from loud supporters, fighting for their brand of journalistic integrity, that overrules the fundamentals of human decency.
A week later, after it was understood that curating the legacies of legends can be a complicated task when the goal is to include notable events accordingly, we are back in the gunk of that exercise with a high-profile interview on a major network with a star anchor, who dutifully spoke to a longtime good friend of the deceased hero.
The uproar stemming from that incident has poured over with incensed responses from heartbroken fans, friends and spokespeople of a community that’s reeling from gut-wrenching loss of one of their own, who supposed to live forever.
I think we can readily agree that demonizing a hero has the potential to backfire, unless you’re human about it.
The illustrious station of a journalist includes being able to thoughtfully tackle uncomfortable situations that are both unpleasant and necessary.
There’s also the ability to diligently and persuasively activate issues that shouldn’t remain unchecked, in ways that dignify the message, as opposed to presenting opportunities for blinding hostility that ends up demolishing the sanctity of highly-sensitive conversations.
It’s not about whether or not the legacies of heroes should be devoid of the bad stuff because of how badly we need them to be perfectly immortalized without stains of human errors.
The argument lies in the questionable delivery amid a harrowing season of unprecedented tragedy that still leaves us begging God for answers that refuse to come.
Regardless of whether you recognized the hero or considered him a sham who beat the system, you can’t be beyond the capability of instinctively acknowledging the terror of a sudden and violent demise, that also destroyed multiple families, with surviving members whose suffering will never end.
It goes without saying that in the years to come, there will be more than enough literature about the compelling/complicated legacy of a heralded hero who died before his time, and the contenders will compete for prime attention.
There is never a good time to deposit the shit that shreds layers from a worshipped idol, but as we dive deeper into the murkiness of relational foulness, we must confront the inquiries about restorative humanness.
What is the right thing to do when faced with the responsibility of handling a gruesome event, that involves actively grieving families who haven’t yet buried their loved ones, who famously perished in the worst way possible?
How do you navigate that fine line of upholding your journalistic duty while refraining from adding more pain and sorrow to innocent victims of brutally orchestrated rally cries, that have less to do with honoring those who apply, and more to do with demonizing a beloved icon, by torturing those who loved him.
Are the folks who are vocally disgusted beyond reason, exhibiting signs of unreasonable bias when it comes to protecting the narrative of their imperfect hero, who left behind wife and kids, who haven’t even begun to comprehend the days ahead?
Is there a better and more comprehensive method of crafting the “complicated” lifespan of someone who was like a god to admirers, but also a devoted head of a family, that has to juggle the unfathomable loss with the megaphone of naysayers who are adamant about punishing him for triggers?
Should we be moved by the fact that his 13-year-old daughter died with her father, and how that crippling reality would ordinarily give us pause?
Is it about the omnipotence of a reigning champion, whose viability is only getting more formidable with each passing day, due to the grisly coverage of a terrifying accident, that inadvertently realigns the love and prayer for the fallen, and the battered spirits of the ones left behind?
The fear of admitting how you can’t help your inflamed emotions because of the complications of being human, and how that dictates your disillusionment, while watching the gross recklessness on display, doesn’t exactly equal the relentless denial of the facts as they truly are.
Demonizing a hero after death always backfires, and in some cases, it’s not warranted depending on variables, but there are occasions when the beast of wretchedness outdoes those attempts to bury the dead before their members say the final goodbye.
As a victim of child sexual assault, that was never assuaged with the relief of justice, there’s no peace or relatable bonds, stemming from actions of journalists from reputable brands, who weren’t hired for their inherent commitment to respectability and mindful reverence.
You can literally ask any question at any time, and demand to be heard above agonized cries, and if you’re decent about it, the reactions may be refreshingly human.