We have a fascination with the little guy. Foundational to American storytelling is the little guy overcoming adversity to make it big. Americans love happy endings. The movie credits roll when Rocky raises his fists to the sky. Or when the young lawyer wins the big case against the mean corporation. Or when the nerdy sales guy finally marries the hot receptionist.
A storyline of a champion successfully defending his place in the world would never make it on TV. You’d never see a TV drama about a big law firm protecting their big clients assetts in a positive light. It would be offensive to our American storyline to celebrate the big guy keeping the little guy down. Our culture isn’t wired to believe that is a valid storyline.
We, collectively, hate the perennial winner. When the Chicago Bulls finally won the NBA Finals we celebrated with Michael Jordan. But when they won 3 in a row that seemed a bit much and everyone was fine with MJ going to play baseball for a few years. We were sick of his winning ways. The good guy needed to go wear a black baseball hat for a while… so we could welcome him back as he overcame being down to come to the top one more time.
We love the process of becoming a winner. But actual winners become the enemy in about two seconds.
This plays out painfully in politics. Collectively, we loved Bill Clinton as president. Then we hated him. We loathed his sleazy ways and couldn’t wait for him to leave office. People loved George W. Bush. It’s almost embarrassing to say that publicly– but the people loved Bush! Then they hated him. As time wore on everyone looked forward to him leaving office. Not even Republican nominees for his office wanted him at their events in the last year of his presidency. And now the tides are turning against Barack Obama. Just 12 months ago more than 60% of Americans chanted “Yes We Can” as they cast their ballot. Many cried along with the thousands at Grant Park when Obama won. Many lined up for days to proclaim his innaguration as the greatest day in our lifetime. But now he’s not the little guy, is he? The little guy has become the man and there is something in our collective DNA that must learn to loathe him.
It’s a little surreal when you look at it like that, isn’t it? Maybe its just hip to hate the President?
Sports? Same thing.
Celebrity? Same thing.
Business? Same thing.
Churches? Same thing.
Pretty much anyone or any thing which rises from obscurity to some notoriety is immediately loathed once they make it to the top. People hate Microsoft. They hate Dell. They hate AT&T. They hate the Yankees. They hate CNN. They hate Rick Warren. They hate Miley Cyrus.
I don’t know about you. But I’m ready for a new storyline in our culture. I’m sick of the hatred. I’m bored with making celebrities awesome in order to just tear them down. The plot is disgusting to me.
How about we start celebrating the everyday champions? The ones who never gain notoriety for coaching a freshmen basketball team. Is it possible for our culture to celebrate the Jack & Diane’s of the world? How about celebrating longevity? How about focusing on long term success instead of a parabola of success?
Of course not. We love creating superstars for the sole purpose of destroying them far too much.