Bob Costas has reportedly been sidelined from covering the Winter Olympics again tonight, but his eyes aren’t the only thing infected.
This whole episode has revealed a larger epidemic. Rather than simply ignore Costa’s quandary (which is what we all pray will happen when something like this happens to us) — or treating it with compassion — we fixated on it.
The amount of schadenfreude has been disturbing, and can only be explained by understanding that we tend to assume famous people don’t have feelings. It’s also indicative of how — even among the famous (and maybe because we don’t feel sorry for famous people) — certain people are designated “fair game” for our mockery and abuse.
For various reasons, Costas is one of those unfortunate bastards. Because in any other scenario, it would be considered bullying when mainstream outlets like New York Magazine say “Bob Costas still looks like a monster,” when Twitter feeds are devoted to @BobCostasEyes, and when we use photoshop to create ridiculous memes celebrating someone’s misery…
Schadenfreude for Bob Costas’ pinkeye has also been prevalent at center-right outlets, who likely resent his political stances. The Federalist ran a column headlined, Bob Costas Pinkeye Straight Out Of Greek Tragedy About Smugness, and TheDC asked, Who farted on Bob Costas’ pillow?
Of course, not everyone who posts a silly picture of Costas or makes a Twitter joke about him is being intentionally malicious. Likely, we’re just joining in with the crowd and laughing at someone who will never see it — we assume. This kind of enabling, of course, is tantamount to the kids who laugh and egg on the bully.
Perhaps, you say, Costas should have stayed home and not subjected himself to the mockery.
Maybe that’s right, but the truth is that most of us can’t avoid going out in public when these unfortunate things pop up. Most of us have to show up at work whether we have a blemish or a cold sore or a black eye.
Costas has covered every Olympics since 1992. Maybe he’s afraid of losing his gig — or maybe this is a testament to his work ethic. But Olympic games don’t happen every day, and it makes sense why a professional would want to get in the big game — even if he has an injury.
I’m not saying he’s a hero, but any kid who ever had to go to school with a zit on his face should identify with Costas’ plight. Instead, we savage him. Because he’s not really a person, right?