Reinvention in the public eye

On the road to redemption?
On the road to redemption?

After yesterday’s admition of guilt (10 years too late) and accompanying resignation from his Eastleigh seat, MP Chris Huhne will almost certainly be the face of the next edition of Private Eye.  Fame at last, in my books – I love the Eye – and only wish it had the membership of facebook, and perhaps the world would be a cleaner place.

So, Chris Huhne.  He “perverted the course of justice”.  Lied for a decade to protect his career.  He stood (and almost won) in the leadership contest to be head of the Liberal Democrats.  He is now facing a prison sentence.  On paper, it’s a solid performance.

If anyone required some sort of “reinvention,” as we embrace the Year of the Snake next week, it is Mr Chris Huhne.

Lance Armstrong may be able to sympathise.  Armstrong went on Oprah last month, and confessed to a nation about his sorry tale.  A day of trending on Twitter, and perhaps Armstrong’s own redemption journey has begun now in earnest, and will see him resurrected in a year or two, in a new role.

What is the take-away from comparing these two fallen-from-grace public figures, in their respective professions and life pursuits?  What does any of it all mean for those of us not in the public eye?

Once you move on from shaking your head at their misdemeanors, and thinking “what were you thinking at the time?” I am just not sure what purpose any further raving on the matter will ultimately serve to satiate, other than our own tendencies to jump on hate bandwagons and point the finger.

These two men messed up beyond anything we’d like to imagine would be possible if we were in their situations.

The picture they have created for themselves, their canvas, began with a traditional, and almost certainly human, act of indiscretion.  And yet then, for reasons only understood by the protogonists themselves, it’s as if they took advice from Pablo Picasso on what to do next, creating over years an alternative “masterpiece” of scandal.  In many ways, their “work” is a tour de force of reinvention: truth-bending, make-believe, and disillusion.

Is this personality driven?  Is it addiction-prone egos, over-powering feelings of invincibility?  Or just people abusing positions of power?

Lord only knows.  These two may just be mean, twisted-up folks.  “Let them join the ‘bad guys’ club, and let’s not associate our values and morals with theirs” we might suggest.  As we skim over Huhne and Armstrong headlines of the day, adopting a position of disgust and dismissal is perfectly natural, and serves its purpose.  We react, and then move on to the next piece.  And let’s be honest, reading about David Beckham’s latest transfer move might be dull as ditch-water, but it’s easy on the cerebral side.  The white cells can just scull about up there for a few seconds breather, whilst we take in the new Becks “scoop”.

Many of you reading this may recognize that the world no longer spins on the UK axis.  What is your reaction to this, and what comes to your mind in your own context when reading about this UK centered content?”

The stone in the shoe for me, the bit which niggles, is that word: human.

With betrayal stories such as these, it does not have to be about forgiveness, or about empathy, or about reason.  It can be, instead, about human beings, just being human.

Sure, mature, educated human beings in this case.  Human beings with a gaggle of (clearly overpaid and rather delusional themselves) advisers flocking around them, imparting the sort of advice which, if nothing else, will ensure they line their own pockets in the process.

Maybe Chris Huhne will switch careers, and join some sports industry body.  It is almost certain that Lance Armstrong is destined for US politics one day (the job description for which seems to alight on past cock-ups and personality “issues” as essential requirements).

Will we still throw rocks at these two in 5 years’ time, whatever their outcomes?  I expect so, and I expect they deserve their fair share, for the foreseeable future.  But we can look beyond the obvious.  The media circus will always be there to spell out the obvious.  It is up to individuals to seek out what might be less so.

Without letting people “off” breaking rules, laws, trust, let’s embrace also the idea of feeling around for something else to say and think.  Let’s take a closer look, now and again, and reinvent some of those judgemental impulses we all have.

I think it’s fair to assume that Armstrong and Huhne have enough judges and juries in their lives to be going on with for now.

One thought on “Reinvention in the public eye

  1. Claudia

    I find the idea of redemption/reinvention pretty interesting when considering such folks as L Armstrong (can’t comment on your guy over there who is apparently not impressing you UK people)…one factoid I recall related to his cancer survival is that high performing athletes tend to both suffer from more advanced cancers due to their high pain tolerance (athletes are conditioned to have high pain thresholds, therefore are more likely to ignore physical symptoms of problems..) and such athletes tend to also then show stronger recovery rates from horrendous treatments such as huge chemo doses due *exactly* again to this high threshold for pain. These folks are not normal people and so the overall tolerance for *any* kind of discomfort may be particularly high..hence the ability to string along in such a strong web of lies over and over. of course this in no way excuses the piles of yarns but I think it does add an interesting additional dimension of considering the question of “how could s/he *do* that?”.

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