Sunday, 17 January 2016

Our Awesome Heroes

Last night I found an old file filled with autographs. For me these are wonderful mementos of artists being awesome… Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny [I wrote them a fan letter when I was a teenager], Reg Mombassa [he signed the back of a Metcard during a book launch for his art], David Wenham [when he was acting the role of an architect, he sat in my office cubicle between filming scenes and I politely asked if I may have his autograph]. Looking at these autographs it got me thinking about hero worship and idolisation.

I’ve heard the saying ‘never meet your heroes’. I guess the person who first said that idolised someone to such a degree that they inflated their general awesomeness to something that of a Greek god standing tall on the top of Mount Olympus. Then the glorious moment arrived in which that person met their idol. In a twist of bitter irony perhaps that happened to be the day their idol was having a gawd awful day. They’d been on a plane one day too long, had no sleep whatsoever, and now it looks like that stomach bug is about to do a rerun, and they are about to face an army of people all excitedly determined to ask the exact same questions that they hear every other day. Expect tears! Gawd help the fan, and gawd help the idolised.

Now I’m not saying we mustn’t idolize and admire people. Why I have my list of people that I idolize and admire. I used to curate an interview fact file on Gwen Stefani. I am also curious about Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, and Victoria Beckham, so I suppose one of these days I’ll have their writings on the bookshelf alongside the Gwen fact file. Here’s the thing about admiration and idolisation, if you have the chance to really get to know the object of your fascination then that idolisation dissolves and is replaced by other things – human respect, understanding and perhaps, under the right set of circumstances, friendship may even result.

Four or so years ago I discovered the photographic work of Carla Coulson. I was instantly bowled over by her images and her story – here was an Australian woman who successfully changed her entire life on her own terms. I discovered her blog, read her stories, on occasion spoke with her via social media and eventually met her at an official event. Today I admire her more than ever before but somewhere along the way the idolisation turned into something more akin to peer respect and understanding.
Meeting Carla at her book launch.

Admiration for another is a wonderful, healthy feeling, and it can help us realise our own dreams: I love what that person does; I want to do that too; I want to learn; I want to do more; How did they do it? Let that admiration be the very thing that drives you to improve yourself. And at the end of the day, if you have the chance to meet your hero, then by all means go for it. Just make sure your hero is not in the middle of dinner or sitting on the loo when you’re asking for their autograph. Be kind, be polite, and admire away without the pedestal - it will trip people up, as Jennifer Lawrence knows only too well.