* Walks into the Court of Public Opinion *
I want to start off by telling you, most of our heroes are frauds.
From the allegations against Bill Cosby to the truth about Hulk Hogan’s feelings about black people, as of late, our heroes seem to be crashing down from their pedestals at lightening speed. I am no way condoning what these people have done and I think they deserve whatever punishment they receive. But, honestly, I never expected much from them. For example, I grew up watching ‘The Cosby Show’ and never thought it was groundbreaking nor did I see Cobsy as African America’s Dad. Hulk Hogan toys were scattered around my house as a kid but never thought much of him other than his ability to leg drop “bad guys ” and never hurt himself in the process.
Which brings me to last month’s fallen ‘hero (puns are always welcomed here)’ Subway’s Jared Fogel, who was arrested for and eventually plead guilty to child pornography charges and to crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors. In my opinion it doesn’t get much worse than this and if justice prevails, I genuinely hope they lock him up and throw away the key. But Jared’s jail time could have some implication for Subway. Legend has it Jared lost more than 200 pounds by only eating Subway for a one year (I have questions about the verity of that claim, but that’s for another post). Now Jared isn’t “Subway” but if we’re being honest his testimony certainly helped the chain’s image and popularity. Today, Subway has 44,000 stores in 110 countries and countless stories of folks who have made positive changes in their lives because of Jared’s story .For some, Jared is a “hero” of sorts. So, if Jared’s presence increased Subway’s profile, is it fair to not eat Subway’s anymore because pedophilia is literally the worst?
In the last month I’ve heard arguments for both sides.
In an overweight country that celebrates Big Mac’s secret sauce, Jared showed us that a regular guy could win too. Now here’s the thing, while growing up and consistently seeing the truth about our heroes from Lance Armstrong, to Chris Brown I realized that separating an artist from their art is very hard to do but necessary. Is Jared’s legacy of health and determination any less impactful because we discovered that in between sandwich bites, he’s a creep and a terrible person? I don’t think so. I believe that once an artist creates something for the public (in this case it’s a story line about changing your life) it now belongs to the people and shouldn’t lose its value because the artist does.
Now before you say that’s crazy and I that I’m sold out on chicken subs, ask yourself …did you see Straight Outta Compton? buy tickets to a Chris Brown show? Do you still stan for Jay-z or consider yourself part an auxiliary member of Floyd Mayweather’s Money Team?’
If you answered yes to any of that….you might have to sit this one out.