by | Feb 9, 1997 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Anyone who has ever tried to be the “good” child recalls the frustration of seeing a “bad” brother or sister get more attention when they did something wrong.

And, what was worse, they also got more attention when they apologized.

“Hey,” you wanted to yell, “what about me? I’ve been doing things right the whole time!”

You didn’t do this, because you were the “good” child. And perhaps you figured one day you’d be older and things would be fair.

Obviously, you figured wrong.

Take a look at this country and tell me it isn’t a case study for cashing in going down and cashing in coming back up.

Actors get famous for their wild, crude behavior, then rekindle that fame by “straightening out.”

Businessmen make fortunes doing dirty deals, then seek to buy their way into respectability.

TV evangelists lie and take your money for a ticket to heaven, then seek more money to help them crush their sins.

And for the best coming-and-going scams, look no further than your local bookstore. There you can find books such as “American Tragedy” by Lawrence Schiller, which claims (surprise!) that O.J. Simpson was guilty. Schiller ought to know. He previously co-wrote “I Want To Tell You” with Simpson, in which the football star says he’s innocent.

So Schiller, in one year, gets to make a buck from innocence and guilt — of the same man?

Wow. What a country.

Cry for me, Argentina

I don’t know how some people stomach it. For example, quality actresses — women who have done difficult, low-paying roles for years — now have to watch a pretender like Madonna lay claim to a “serious actress” title with the film

Never mind that she made her fame with sex songs, on-stage masturbation, slinky clothes and a book of nude pictures that came wrapped in brown paper. Now she has decided she wants to be taken seriously — as an actress and a mother.

Is it coincidence that her records have slumped and she’s getting too old to be a sex kitten? Shut up, we’re told. She has decided. All the real actresses and unheralded mothers are supposed to get out of her way.

Or how about a couple of photographers named David LaFontaine and Lysa Moskowitz-Mateau? For years, they worked maybe the sleaziest jobs in America: taking pictures and writing stories for tabloids. They stalked celebrities. They were leeches, plain and simple.

Now they are writing a “tell all” book about what’s it’s like inside the tabloid world. They say they quit, can’t take it anymore, and they want to expose the industry for what it is.

You know what I say?

You were the problem.

You don’t get to be the solution.

Bad is good for business

Think about it: Dick Morris. Kelsey Grammer. Tammy Faye Baker. The fact is, that little kid who wanted to say “What about me, I’ve been doing the right thing all along” was probably right. He’s the most overlooked soul in America.

People who do honest work in glamorless jobs are never celebrated. People who put their art over fame are rarely made rich. Politicians who don’t push to the spotlight are rarely noticed and often not elected.

Doing the right thing has somehow become boring in this country. No wonder those Nike commercials with Grant Hill try to turn him into a “bad boy.” Someone in the marketing department is probably worried about future sales if he stays so clean.

You know the invisible hand of justice we always wish would come sweeping down? I wish, just once, it would stop people like Morris, Schiller, Madonna, those tabloid photographers, that it would say “Sorry, you made your bed. You want to get in the other line, you have to go to the back. All these other people have a cleaner record. They get preference.”

Instead, we celebrate bad boys and we celebrate rehab. We fall for trouble, and we fall for apologies.

But we seem to have no interest in those who quietly do things right, without fanfare, without noise. That’s a shame. They’re the ones we should celebrate.

Instead they go on, day after day, the good kids of the world, no doubt wondering when that “life is fair” thing is going to kick in.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

Subscribe for bonus content and giveaways!