Monday, January 13, 2014

When I'm Dead and Gone

I have fond memories of Christmas Eve when I was a child. My mom would get out the phonograph and she had a 78 record she'd play: White Christmas.

I hear that Bing Crosby sold a lot of records and mom rather liked that one.

And when I was a kid I'd see the occasional movie where he was a priest or something. And of course, the road movies with Bob Hope and the beautiful Dorothy Lamour. He was on the occasional TV show and I liked his singing and comedy.

He seemed a happy, easy-going, likable sort that I would not mind hanging around with.

Then he died. And with him safely in the grave and unable to rebut anything said against him, stories started coming out about what a horrid, horrid man he was. I don't know who's lying, either Bing up there on the screen or his critical biographers. I just know the one-sidedness of it and the tendency for ghouls dishing dirty to get bigger paydays than hagiographers.

And every Sunday evening when better people than I were going to evening services at church, I'd stay home and watch the Wonderful World of Disney. I rather liked that fellow who'd introduce the shows and talk about the world of the future. He seemed another pleasant fellow I wouldn't mind knowing.

Then he died. And with him safely in the grave and unable to rebut anything said against him, stories started coming out... Sound familiar?

To hear some tell it, Walt Disney had KKK sheets in his closet. Just now I heard someone pushing hearsay that they had on good authority he was an anti-semite. Why stop there, give him the full Godwin and call Walt a Nazi, OK?

And while we're at it, kindly consider Henry Ford, the man who brought motoring to the masses via the Model T. His death did not usher in a bunch of dirt-dishing tell-alls, but a careful look at the man's statements would make the sensitive reader regard him a cismale gendernormative fascist.

Pretty much every hero of my youth from E. Rice Burroughs to Lucky Lindy has been deconstructed and turned into a monster.

There are a couple ways this happens. The first I've touched on. The second is changing moral standards. There was a time when someone who used the N-word was the Senate Majority Leader. Frankly, our society has taken the notion of racial equality and turned into a game of gotcha. A lot of things that were once perfectly acceptable in polite society are now the direst crimes. A cigarette at your desk was once a legitimate way of calming one's nerves amidst a stressful workday.

I don't think all moral standards are so fungible. The Savior summarized the decalogue in two parts: Love God and your fellow human. (I once could say fellow man without starting an argument.) If Bing and Walt were sincerely loving people, then they've been unfairly treated. I don't know one way or another.

But when I'm dead and gone, I hope my sincere warmth and bonhomie will be that which everyone talks about.


  1. Well, you've left a lof of documented evidence of your sincere warmth and bonhomie.

  2. I don't think you or I have anything to worry has to actually be famous before anyone cares to write anything bad about him. :)


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