There is no place in a fanatic’s head where reason can enter. —Napoleon Bonaparte
A recent thread in GLONO’s message boards about Jared Leto playing John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman, got me thinking about hero worship and criticism and the seeming inability some people have to face any assessment of their heroes or to acknowledge their shortcomings as humans. Frankly, I find it weird. Why is it some people can’t separate the art from the artist?
I’ve heard Beatle fans say they refuse to utter Chapman’s name so he “doesn’t get what he wants,” which is presumably the fame he so desperately sought as a young man. These fans argue that the mere mention of his name is to reward him for killing a celebrity. But that’s asinine. Mark David Chapman is a historical figure. I don’t like it anymore than anyone else does, but facts are facts. He killed a member of the most famous and most successful group in the history of popular music. He killed an icon. Having done so makes him a historical figure by definition. When you read any rendition of Lennon’s story it ends with the name Mark David Chapman. That’s not rewarding Chapman for his act, it’s acknowledging his horrendous role in Lennon’s death.