The drama ensuing from Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend story being a hoax is going to leave a blight on Notre Dame. Take a gander at this story on deadspin and tell me what you believe so far.
Here’s what I think: I think that the idea of being a celebrity is way too engrained in the lives of talented millennials. In other words, it wasn’t enough for Manti Te’o to be a star linebacker, he had to be more than that. He had to be larger than life. I’m hoping that’s not the case, as Notre Dame is standing by Manti’s story that he was the one taken advantage of here by someone who played on his emotions. Perhaps the ruse embarrassed him so much that he didn’t want to lose face? Other reports say Manti was in on it and if that’s true, than we have a megalomaniac on our hands.
The question that remains us why? Our consumeristic society can tell us something here, because even when we have enough it is never enough. Stars have to be superstars and what’s the difference between a model and a supermodel anyway? Sports stars like Terrell Owens and Tim Tebow have dominated headlines during the week but them often fell flat own game day. So far, we can’t say that about Te’o with the exception of the Alabama game. Yet, it is all too easy to feel like we were taken for a ride by someone. We wanted to believe in the power of inspiration and maybe that much is real, but to now find out that what was behind the inspiration is nothing more than a cheap joke, is stunning and sad.
On a retreat once, I had someone who was clearly making up stories, most likely for attention, but also because the person was mentally ill and off meds. Whenever people get a bit of attention these days it seems that they must bask in the limelight to the tenth power. The need to maximize stardom is well at the heart of this case, I think, and that is something Notre Dame should well pay attention to, because that addiction may have gotten them hooked as well.
Notre Dame and Manti Te’o are back in the headlines and I wonder if Manti, while he says he is embarrassed, isn’t still taking all of us a bit more further down the tracks of celebrity? Perhaps we are still feeding the addiction of celebrity, even while we are feeling robbed.
And maybe, just maybe Manti is laughing all the way to the bank.