Some news pundits eat up the gossip. They like to — or are at least paid to — spread the word about happenings like the Miami-Dade police department’s recent arrest of Justin Bieber.
I don’t like to talk about celebrities though, and I refuse to recount Bieber’s alleged offenses here. The details of his personal and public life are largely none of my business. In my opinion, even my stating that he was arrested, while omitting the individual charges against him, is indicative of me riding the fine line between necessary and unnecessary participation in the gossip about his life.
Though, to the extent that I am participating in this conversation, however minimal, I want to take away something positive from the experience and share my findings.
I was led to this topic while I was browsing the home page of NPR. On that page, I found that Mark Memmott wrote an article about Bieber’s incident, and it caught my gaze because he chose to approach the subject in a refreshing way. Instead of rambling about the celebrity’s history and then musing about his uncertain future, Memmot paired the arrest with a relevant coverage of a 2007 monologue from The Late Late Show.
In the video, host Craig Ferguson spoke about another infamous celebrity: Britney Spears. He said, that evening, that he wasn’t going to make fun of her or dig into her most recent scandal. He said he was going to treat the matter with conscience by respectfully refraining from feeding the flames. An alcoholic himself, Ferguson compared Spears’ actions with his own and told an abridged tale of his personal battle with alcoholism:
“The kind of weekend she had… she was checking in and out of rehab, she was shaving her head, getting tattoos. That’s what she was doing this weekend,” he said.
“This Sunday, I was 15 years sober,” he continued. “So, I looked at her weekend and I looked at my own weekend, and I thought, ‘You know, I’d rather have my weekend.’ [What] she’s going through reminds me of what I was doing.”
Although he did not label Spears as an alcoholic, Ferguson said she obviously was vulnerable and said vulnerable people should get a pass from his nightly jokes. He doesn’t hesitate to say that he had a problem and that he was once vulnerable. He, as a younger man, sat in the same seat as Spears.
The twelve-minute clip is worth watching in its entirety not just for its change of pace but also for its raw, unadulterated honesty. It made me think about how I address the state of others.
About any individual, am I thinking first, “Do you need help?” Celebrity or not, if it’s within my power to help, I believe I am partially responsible.
Ferguson says that everyone knows an alcoholic. Whether it’s an acquaintance, friend, or spouse, everyone knows someone. Help, he clearly notes, is located at the front of the phone book.
If you know anyone who needs help with an alcohol or drug problem, please take the opportunity to assist him or her. You can find Alcoholics Anonymous and similar drug dependence groups in cities across the U.S. To begin, you can reach the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence on the web, or you can call 800-NCA-CALL for a referral to a local affiliate near you.