On Building Up… And Breaking Down…

Let me tell you a story about a girl named Ronda Rousey.

(Yes, I’m talking about a sporty-ball thing.  Relax.  It has a greater purpose.)

For the better part of the last two years, we couldn’t stop hearing about this woman.  Whether it was glowing articles about how she was “most dominant athlete in the history of ever” (opinion: she wasn’t even the most dominant female athlete this year, go look up Serena Williams at some point), or her cross-promotions into WWE, and apparently upcoming television and film.

Everyone wanted to interview her, and damn near everyone did.

But in that same stretch, our culture was preparing for the inevitable.  We were ready for it.  We wanted it.  And then we finally got it.

Ronda Rousey lost.

The turn was immediate.  I got whiplash following the twist narrative from “most dominant” to “glory girl” and “poser” and “clearly flawed.”  As annoying as the former was… the heel turn our culture made was just about as tedious.

Because, well, this is what our culture does.  We build up our heroes, seemingly for the sole purpose of tearing them down.  We want our icons to be successful, but not too successful.  We take as much glee from the schadenfreude as we do from the triumph.  We enjoy the fall as much (if not more) than the ascension.

In every field of entertainment, this is what we do.  We wait in eager anticipation for our “favorite” writer’s next book to bomb (especially if said book isn’t from the series we want that author to write in), or the director’s next film to crash and burn, or for the “dynasty” sports team to crumble.

It’s a phenomenon that’s annoyed me for a while, but now as a culture we’ve completely abandoned the pretense as well.  We don’t even pretend anymore.  This is what we want… to raise people on our shoulders simply for the purpose of eventually dropping them on their head, then laughing in delight when we drop them.

That’s not culture.  That’s a cruel prank.  It’s something that you do as 12-year-olds.

Which may just be our level of cultural maturity, I guess.

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