The Harder They Fall

There was Fatty Arbuckle’s alleged rape, Loretta Young’s pregnancy by a married Clark Gable, Errol Flynn allegedly cavorting with two underage girls, Marilyn Monroe’s affair with Bobby Kennedy, Pee Wee Herman masturbating in a movie theater, Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant, Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults, Bill Cosby’s sex crimes and now The Boss.

Bruce Springsteen was just the latest in a long line of the uber rich and famous who have fallen from grace, certainly temporarily, after committing grave improprieties. For Bruce, the sin was a drunk driving charge lodged against him for having two shots of tequila after parking his motorcycle and shooting the breeze with a few people he met at a national park and his blood alcohol level reached an astonishing .02, a quarter of the legal limit in New Jersey, or about the limit you get from reading the label on a bottle of Smirnoff’s. The idea of a famous rocker drinking alcoholic beverages is just utterly scandalous.

“Bruce got a DWI, my oh my, Bruce got a DWI, I think I’m gonna cryieee, I think I’m gonna cryiiie.”

It does sell newspapers. I suppose since the first caveman was caught fooling around with his best friend’s wife, that people have just loved to gossip, particularly about celebrities and to watch the great fall and to see them bleed just like the rest of us mere mortals. And the cave man journal certainly reported on all of the latest incidents that shocked the caveman world. The gossip about the first cave man was made even more salacious if he happened to be the chief caveman. Gossip is so sweet because it let’s us see that the people at the top of the food chain are not perfect and in fact, are no better than the rest of us. We love to hear that sound of the high and mighty crashing to the ground with a wonderfully entertaining thud.

With Springsteen, it’s obviously much ado about nothing but certainly the Boss understands that gossip not only comes with the territory but is vital to keep him in the public eye and to keep those millions rolling in. It’s like when former New York City Mayor John Lindsay said he didn’t care if it was good news or bad news, just keep his name in the papers.

Of course, the nature and gravity of the gossip is important because the public will forgive Bruce for having a few tequilas one night at Sandy Hook park but they would probably not be as understanding and ready to lift him back to his heights of fame if Springsteen was found to have been running a sex ring or had sex with the adopted daughter of his former wife or even if he was outed as gay. My, my wouldn’t that put a dent in his macho image. So where do they draw the line, those who decide what is wrong and what is not?

We really do believe that a person who can string notes together in a pleasing way and write songs that make you rock is really better than the rest of us or that someone who can strike a white sphere further than the rest of us should be somehow worshiped as they probably aren’t even human and arrived in an alien spaceship. But then, as they say, that is why they get the big bucks and not the cops, firefighters, teachers, health care workers, etc., etc., etc.

Some people go crazy overboard with their fantasies about the stars and sometimes they go out of control, like John Lennon’s assailant, Mark David Chapman, or John W. Hinckley, Jr., who stalked Jodi Foster before he tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Chapman had a personal grudge with Lennon and Hinckley was convinced that Foster love him.

But isn’t it sweet to take a peek into Bruce’s underwear drawer and find his secrets that his promoters and managers are paid millions of dollars to keep quiet. You take the famous down a notch and it’s the only way you can feel a kinship, see, he keeps dirty magazines in his drawer too, it’s like stripping the emperor of his clothes, how sweet. And how odd it is to consider the star of your dreams is altogether just human like the rest of us and suffers good and bad days and can even get hemorrhoids or god forbid, COVID19.

But regardless of his flaws, and they aren’t deep, I will continue listening to Bruce’s music because he makes me feel good and he makes sense and he makes me feel as if we know him personally, as ridiculous as that is, although I dare anyone to get through the army of high tech security that is around the boss 24–7. I have thought about what it would be like to wake up every morning and see Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan in the mirror. Dylan once explained that he was only Bob Dylan when he was performing and that the rest of the time, he was just another person.

And that gets me to donald trump and why millions worship him. Trump has turned celebrity concerns about image on its head. What would have sunk most others, made his minions love him even more. What would have surely been a death knell was in large part the reason he was elected. The lines have been obliterated about what is acceptable and what is verboten. So Springsteen can be dragged across the coals for having a few tequilas while trump is deified after woman after woman accuses him of sexual assault and he stands before the world and convinces a mob of believers to attack the Capitol.

Go figure.

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer