Fallen figures should stay out of the spotlight

By Kaiti Deerberg

As a whole, American audiences are voyeuristic and self-indulgent. Reality TV dominates the airwaves, and usually the shows we are prone to watching are the ones we consider the “biggest train wrecks.”

So when a prominent social or political figure takes a dive south, we cannot wait to tune into the exclusive interview with Barbara Walters or snatch a copy of a tell-all book filled with sordid details.

At some point while doing this, we have to question our motivation. Are we tuning in to make ourselves feel better, to boost our own confidence? Or are we genuinely curious about these wayward public figures? Our personal answers may differ, but there is still a larger ethical question at hand: Should we support these people financially?

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers recently appealed to modify his terms of bail so he could travel to Costa Rica to participate in a reality television series for NBC, aptly titled “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” Cute, right?

The “Survivor”-esque show forces D-list celebrities to compete against each other while sitting in tanks of leeches and wading through snake-infested swamps. Blago was set to compete against the likes of pseudo-journalist Geraldo Rivera, “American Idol” reject Sanjaya Malakar and Heidi Montag from “The Hills.” Hardly celebrities in my book, but who am I to judge?

Fortunately, on April 21, U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel denied Blagojevich’s lawyers’ request to send him off to the Costa Rican jungle. Zagel commented that modifying his bail was a “bad idea” and mentioned the possibility of Blago fleeing while out of the country. He did, however, state that he was sympathetic to Blago’s financial situation, the former governor’s supposed motivation to do the show. Really?

The show could have possibly earned Blagojevich $123,250. Blago said reality television was not his first career choice, but it was a living. Earning a year’s salary while filming a television show for a month is not what I would call a career choice, but definitely not a shabby gig.Blago has even evoked sympathy out of a straight-shooting federal judge.

Should any of us really feel bad that Blago’s lifestyle will have to change due to lack of funds? If someone at a company fails to do their job, it is not unexpected that the person is let go and left to their own devices.

So when an elected official swindles, lies and abuses his power, we should all expect that he’ll get the boot. But we must ask: What now?

Blagojevich’s demise happened rather publicly, as many of his corrupt politico predecessors have done. This usually leads to some trouble in job-hunting for the offenders, but are their financial woes our concern? Should we support their desperate attempts to cash in on their stories?

As curious as we may be, and as badly as we would like to know the truth, Blago is never going to give it to us. Watching his television appearances and supporting his ongoing publicity stunts are just like prolonging a slow death.

He will end up broke and out of the public eye at some point, so why are we pumping money his way and still giving him our attention?

Maybe we really cannot look away because we are curious, maybe it makes us feel better to see someone fail so badly, or maybe we just need something to discuss at the water cooler at work. But despite the reason, the time has come for us to stop this long-standing American tradition of ogling over the fallen.

Even though Blago is out of the running, I must admit I would have loved to see a cat fight between Heidi Montag and Blagojevich, but I am just thankful Zagel made a decision that leads me away from that temptation.