Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Scourge of Celebrity

In his recent appearance on a late-night talk show, comedian James Gaffigan joked about his ever-growing family and his "Shiite Catholic" wife (she's really not), while announcing that he would be performing a show for Pope Francis during His Holiness's upcoming visit to Philadelphia.

His host Conan O'Brien is a Catholic, as well. I am unaware of just how much of a practicing Catholic he is, but his Irish-Catholic legacy is a frequent topic of humor on his show(s).

Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert has been exploiting the Faith for years. He has cozied up to William Donahue of the Catholic League to straighten up his image, and more recently he has been preparing for his new talk show by presenting the Faith to the world with a much more liberal bent.

None of which compares to his softball interview with the pseudo-Catholic Vice President in a recent show.

In some respects it's hard to dislike these celebrities. They appear to be genuinely nice men who did their best job staying Catholic in a time of liturgical and doctrinal tumult. (Compare them to talk show host James Fallon, who apostatized after losing the old Latin Mass.) One could share the proverbial beer with them, and even have a good time swapping stories about silly priests and serving at Mass.

Still, their undermining of Catholic morals and doctrine is only going to increase as time goes on. Much like JFK, with his assurances to the American public that he would never allow the Vatican to dictate the formation of his conscience, so do these Catholic celebrities surround themselves with quasi-celebrity priests and bishops who soothe them with soft words of encouragement and never deign to offer a word of chastisement or correction.

Celebrity itself is a scourge. What kind of man can push against the temptation to celebrity with real humility? After all, why not make the compromises that they know the networks will demand in order to remain on the air? Why not be welcoming to all orientations? Why not publicly excuse abortionists from their moral horrors? Why not present yourself as the most reasonable golden mean between two unreasonable pseudo-Catholic extremes? Those who have the potential talent to make it big in the entertainment factories will find it difficult to save their souls.

It is also a scourge to the faithful. We are lulled into moral complacency through laughter and through the surface appearance of orthodoxy and piety. We are assured they are "one of us," and even our non-Catholic friends seem to find their version of Catholicism attractive. Shouldn't we exploit that attraction for the good of our friends? Isn't an imperfectly motivated attraction better than no attraction at all?

As long as a celebrity Catholic feels the need to placate the world in the public sphere, as long as he holds a position of fame or influence that could be lost if the advertisers are twitchy about bigotry, he will be sorely tempted to do whatever it takes to remain in that position. If he can calm his conscience with flattering clerics, so much the better.

Don't we all gravitate towards the confessors we know will be soft on our sins?

The Flatterers, by Gustave DorĂ©


  1. I fear the days have come where serious issues are being probed on the surface by stupid antics resulting in interminable laughter.

    1. Stupid antics for a stupid general populace. It's just human nature.

      "Don't we all gravitate towards the confessors we know will be soft on our sins?"

      Not necessarily. Some people actually like priests who are "hard on them" even if that entails a "flame-thrower" approach that doesn't address the actual problem. It's a very strange form of masochism. Give me a confessor that identifies the problem and gives good advice any day! I don't care if he is harsh or gentle, only that he is helpful.

  2. No matter how funny a man may be, he can not get a talk show gig if he is a zealous Catholic - say nothing about being a trad - for his views would not be acceptable to those who run Hollywood and The Media - The Messias-Deniers.

    Imagine what a funny trad could do with the New York Orthodox Rabbis who suck the blood off the penises of baby boys after they circumcise him; well,that is simply unimaginable because any comedian who made fun of Rabbis who do that would be fired immediately and forever black listed.

    The Cultural Marxists control all discourse - even comedic.

    As Voltaire observed, "To find out who rules over you just see who it is you are not allowed to criticise"