The benefits of celebrity rehab

Those of you hooked on the Cult of Celebrity must already be aware of the misfortune of Kim Richards...

Those of you hooked on the Cult of Celebrity must already be aware of the misfortune of Kim Richards, who is apparently a television star. Well, she appears on a  so-called “reality” TV show, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Technically, Kim Richards doesn’t fit the profile for the show; her husband has moved on to another woman, so technically she’s no longer a housewife.

Anyhoo, earlier this month Richards was arrested for shoplifting at a Target in Las Angeles, spent a night in jail and, almost certainly on the advice of a high-priced Hollywood publicist, immediately entered “rehab.” Is “rehab” designed to make Kim Richards a better person? Naw, it’s all about money.

Last year the NFL Cleveland Browns drafted an immature little brat named Johnny Manziel. Anyone familiar with American college football knows who Manziel is: Johnny Football, the star of the Texas A&M football program. Manziel, who was treated like European royalty at Texas A&M because, of course, he won football games, put up stellar numbers playing against other boys, and some NFL experts felt he’d do as well or better playing against men in the professional world. Not so.

Manziel not only struggled on the field  (18-of-35 passing for 176 yards and two interceptions, which is horrible, even for a rookie) but his personal life was a disaster. He was fined for giving a middle finger to players from another NFL team; all last season Manziel was heavily criticized for bad play on the field, lack of leadership and apparently not knowing the Browns’ playbook. Meanwhile, Manziel was known for showing up late to team meetings or even missing meetings because he was hung over or otherwise incapacitated as a result of his “Animal House” lifestyle. He promised over and over again to clean up his act but things only seemed to get worse.

It must have been frustrating for the team, because 21 other teams passed on Manziel in the draft; the Browns took a chance on him, and showed trust in him. Pro football is a billion-dollar business and there really is little to no time for entitled brats to behave like they’re attending a college frat party while their teammates are practicing and trying to make themselves better athletes.

So earlier this year Johnny Football checked himself into an unknown detox or rehab centre to deal with “alcohol addiction.” While some apologists claimed Manziel was showing maturity as he tried to deal with a problem out of his control, most others saw the move for what it was: an attempt to re-set his career and avoid the consequences of his childish behavior. Talk around the NFL at that time was that the Browns had had more than enough of Manziel’s immature behavior. Talk was, Manziel’s pro career could be over.

But there’s always “rehab.” In the celebrity world, “rehab” is translated into “I’m dealing with a problem that isn’t my fault and has consequences I’d rather avoid. Please don’t hold me responsible for what I say and do. Rather, shower me with sympathy and second and third chances.”

In a perfect world, celebrities, pro athletes, politicians etc. would deal with their problems the same way we “normal” people deal with them: we face consequences and try to learn from our mistakes.

Stu Salkeld is the new editor of The Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.