“The truth will set you free”, is one of those great adages that is always powerful albeit trite. The problem with that statement is that the truth is often hard to see and nothing camouflages the truth like good looks. Good looking people get away with much more than the aesthetically average. (It’s a small miracle than I’m not an absolute terror.) If you’re beautiful and rich, you can nearly be a psychopath before people will check you.
I love the show “Mad Men.” The fact that my friends and I discuss the virtues of the characters like they’re real people is a testament to how great a show it is. The main guy, Don Draper is a wonderfully flawed character. That’s the consensus at least. Which is what you say about a good looking person who treats others badly. They’re flawed but you have to put a positive adjective in front of the word flawed. You can also call them complicated. Be broke and ugly and you’re just a dick. Your poor uncle is crazy. Your rich uncle is eccentric.
I suppose the beautiful people got it honest. Their personalities are forged over a lifetime of being treated better and being held less accountable. Like the ocean gradually turning rocks into sand, pretty people’s beach of entitlement is formed by never ending waves of compliments and unearned good will.
On screen we put up with bad behavior because, well they’re not real but also they look good so we identify with them. We dream of a world where we have a permanent “get out of jail free card.” I guess cutting a fictional character some slack is okay. In real life though, it’s the stuff that sociopaths are made of.
We also do pretty people a disservice because when you’re told you’re great and you haven’t attained any modicum of greatness it usually ensures that you’ll never reach true greatness. Encouragement is good but propping up mediocrity isn’t. This is why good looking people, present company excluded, aren’t usually funny. People laugh at their unfunny jokes and so they never get around to telling actual funny jokes.
In the end, I’m not sure if pretty people need our compassion or our tough love. What would you think of Don Draper if he wasn’t good looking?
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