Column: Longing for carefree days of ‘Yesterday’

Column: Longing for carefree days of ‘Yesterday’

To the news of Whitney Houston divorcing Bobby Brown, I say: “Finally.” To reports that Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn are still together, I say: “Thank God.” But really, it doesn’t matter that much to me. The world keeps on spinning, either way.

However, the constant mudslinging between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney is really starting to get to me. College students who follow both current celebrity gossip and the living Beatles may be in the minority, but I am certainly one of them. And I have to admit – this kind of news has a profound effect on me.

I have looked up to and adored Paul McCartney for as long as I can remember. Call it clich’eacute;, but his music and ideologies have always “spoken” to me, and I spent a great deal of my adolescence convincing myself that McCartney was the only one who truly understood me.

This past May, the “cute Beatle” and his wife of four years announced their separation. Since then, tabloid rumors abound with bitter divorce battles, trespassing, theft, frozen bank accounts and most recently, verbal and physical abuse.

Last Wednesday, a deposition supposedly filed by Mills was leaked to the British press. In the document, she claimed McCartney had been abusing her for years. I won’t reprint these allegations, because I refuse to believe them, but if you’re interested, it’s all over the Internet.

Is Mills telling the truth? Or is she just trying to beef up her alimony case? Is the man who wrote “Let It Be” really capable of violence or cruelty?

My instincts say that Mills’ insults and accusations can’t be true. Unfortunately, the public will probably never completely know the answers to these questions. All I can derive from this scandal is that Sir Paul McCartney, my lifelong hero, is human. And odds are, he’s not perfect.

As college students, we’ve reached an age at which we’re finding imperfections in many of our role models. We learn things about our parents we never wanted to know. We see our elementary school teachers drunk at bars in our hometowns. We discover that Denise from “The Cosby Show” is a crazy hippy and Zack Morris isn’t a real blonde.

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade since we were starry-eyed New Kids on the Block fans in light-up sneakers, daydreaming about becoming astronauts and actresses. For most of us, the evolution from idealist to pragmatist was gradual.

Now, we’re finally tall enough to take our heroes down off their pedestals and look them in the eye. Sometimes, it’s a refreshing experience. Other times, we may not like what we see.

Nowadays, hearing that an athlete uses steroids or an actor cheats on his or her spouse hardly comes as a surprise. When did we become so cynical? In a world where the mistakes and embarrassments of public figures are all over the news, who can kids idolize now?

When John F. Kennedy was president, he was the most beloved figure in America. We now know that he had at least one mistress, if not more. But does that matter? Is that what he’s remembered for? Of course not.

In 50 years, when we look back at President Clinton, the Monica Lewinsky scandal will definitely come to mind. His numerous contributions to the country will most likely be overlooked.

As a journalist, I’m all for the public’s right to know the truth. But as a person, I don’t always want to know it myself. I want to continue thinking of Paul McCartney as a good person who makes good decisions and brilliant music. In the context of all he accomplished, why are unproven allegations currently getting the most press?

Have most people heard about the children’s book he wrote last year? Or the classical album he released last month? Or his advocacy and activism for animal rights, music education, and the banning of landmines? Of course not.

Why, as adults, are we so drawn to negativity? Eventually we will realize that no one is perfect, and our role models make mistakes like everyone else. But must we focus so much on them?

If the tabloids want to expose every move Paris Hilton makes, fine. If they want to print every time Kevin Federline does something stupid, go ahead. They shouldn’t be anyone’s role models, anyway. But leave Paul McCartney alone.

– Stephanie Shore can be reached at [email protected]

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