National Commentary

Johnny’s World: Climbin’


One will be born. One will live. One will die. These three basic certainties bind us all in the same race to the finish line. There are other certainties we learn over time. In general, one must work hard to achieve something great. One must avoid jail by murdering another. One must accept, for the most part, that there will always be someone more attractive, wealthy, popular or stylish than you. An unfortunate and ever-increasing certainty is that you will be climbed on, and not in the good way.

Several recent events pushed me to write about this phenomenon. Someone hitting on both my husband and myself in a forceful manner in less than 30 minutes wanted a reality show. As I’m not the head of a TV network or a producer, this is something I cannot offer. Someone dressed up as a crazy at a very important fashion show tried to forge a friendship in five minutes to have her photo made with me and to exchange her third-row place card for a front-row exclusive seat. “Can I sit with you?” “I don’t think so, there’s already a major fashion stylist sitting in the seat you want, and I don’t even know you.”

The brazenness of people, trying to get something of out basically anyone, is awe-inspiring. It seems that people not only have forgotten their manners, but also have lost their shame. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympic ice skater, a bouncer at a club, or a school teacher. Someone always wants something from you and they will stop at nothing to get it.

In these times of social networking, internet dating and a bad economy, people are desperate to make a connection that will make their lives easier. If you go to a bar, it is filled with people meeting and making nice just for a chance at bettering their own existence. While I understand that as humans our abilities to be social and to help one another are paramount for a healthy world, it all seems just a little gross at times.

In this world, it is very easy to become jealous of people in the public eye – or even just people down the block with a better car than you – and it has become increasingly easy to use that jealousy to talk yourself up to a ridiculous height in hopes of becoming “an elite member of society.”

Keeping up with the Joneses or Keeping up with the Kardashians is all people seem to care about anymore in social situations. At a recent fashion show, the show wasn’t so much about seeing the artwork unfolding as it seemed to be about who you can have your photograph next to, behind or in the side view of. Carmen Electra, Marc Jacobs, the girl who wears an eccentric hat and looks important, the photographer himself doing a selfie: Nobody was off limits. Fashion Week, a week that displays artists and their works, has turned into Skinny People Chasing Cameras Week.

It isn’t just in the celebrity world that this happens. If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. In high school the dweeb helps the cool kid on a test and in return gets one day at the cool table at lunch or one Friday night at the movies with the elite group.

Is there a way around this, letting the world be a more honest and civilized place? At the moment I’d say no. The risk of making yourself look like an idiot pales in importance of the risk of possibly running in an elite crowd and making a few more dollars a year. I suggest, finding your self-respect and making your way honestly. The person you’re climbing on today knows what you’re doing and will pull the rug out tomorrow.