December 29, 2006
It is amazing the people we admire regardless of their personal lives, or the lifestyles by which they live, or the products they produce. The entertainer James Brown, who died on Christmas day, received front page treatment. He was lionized by many, not only as the “Godfather of Soul,” but a civil rights worker and a “visionary and innovator” who “pushed music to new places.” He certainly was. Some obituaries mentioned him in the same sentence as Elvis Presley.
I like some of this music. I grew up with it. But the influences behind it, I grew not to like. Brown lived with a woman nearly half his age. He married her while he was married to another woman. He had the other marriage annulled, but decided to live with the current woman with whom he fathered a child.
Brown was in and out of jail for various things, including weapons charges. But his skills as a performer – and they were considerable – covered a multitude of personal sins, according to the media. Celebrity trumps everything. If you’re a celebrity, few dare condemn what you do. That’s because we worship celebrity. It has become our god-substitute.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.