The Celebrity Drug Addict As an Underdog

Why are we (as a society) fascinated with celebrities who go down the path of drug addiction?  Is it the celebrities themselves?  Is it the rebelliousness of such a mode of life?  Is it because we ourselves like drugs or wish we could be drug addicts?

It's probably not any of the above, because we don't get as excited about regular drug addicts on the street.  And, for some reason we seem to often times be more fascinated by the drug addicted/recovering celebrity than we were about him prior to his participation in drugs.

Each and every celebrity, has a reason for his fame.  It maybe for beauty, personality, wealth, actions, or even our fascination with a lifestyle (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, The Duggars).  But no matter the reason, there is no such thing as illegitimate fame (an accusation often brandished at Paris and Kim) since by definition a famous person (for a God given reason or not) has successfully attracted notoriety.

Perhaps then it is whatever drew us to these drug addicted celebrities in the first place, that continues to draw us to them once they find themselves in a drug filled predicament.  At least the possibility that the very thing that once drew us, will draw us again.  On some level we wanted to see Robert Downey Jr. act again, Courtney Love perform again, or Rush Limbaugh talk again.

Maybe some of us never even appreciated Robert Downey Jr. that much before he had his issues.  We knew he was regarded as a good actor, and enjoyed his work.  However, we never sought him out.  Once he was beaten down by the tabloids and the real life scourge of drugs though, suddenly we thought, "Man, it's so sad; I hope he gets his life back together."

It's well known that Americans love an underdog, from the 1980 olympic hockey team, to President Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal.  These celebrities are so beat down by the media that we begin to perceive them as underdogs too.  Our natural inclination to support the underdog chimes in, and we think to ourselves, "Wow that person's reason for fame is not so bad.  I'd like to see more of him when he gets better."

That's why drug addiction is sometimes the best unintentional career move a celebrity makes.

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I teach Computer Science to college students, develop software, podcast, and write books about programming including the Classic Computer Science Problems series. I'm the publisher of the hyper local newsletter BTV Daily.

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Based on tdSimple originally by Lasantha Bandara and released under the CC By 3.0.