Self Expression Magazine

He's NOT Perfect - Musings on Fantasy & Idolatry

By Doulalovelou
I'd like to preface this post with 3 things:
  1. The finished product went in a completely different direction than I had originally planned. Sometimes I am just a vessel, you feel?
  2. I in no way feel like I have to “defend” Sam Heughan from fans. I'm sure he pays people good money to do that and we certainly know he can hold his own. This is just my personal experience as a woman grappling with the dangers of fantasy. Remove Sam's name & fill in your own celebrity crush and it may apply to you.
  3. I am very much aware that everyone struggles with different things. Maybe you're better at drawing a line between fantasy & reality than I am. If so, more props to you... I'd love to hear how you do it, 'cause I need all the help I can get.
Lastly, please take this all with a grain of salt & a dram of humor. Much obliged.
As I sit down to write this I have notification after notification going off on my phone. Facebook messages, Twitter mentions, texts... all “Outlander” related or more specifically, Sam Heughan related. If you don't know what Outlander is or who Sam Heughan is, do yourself a favor and DO NOT google it. Seriously. If you want to ever have any semblance of a life again, do not go searching for Outlander or Sam. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
I say this partially in jest, but mostly from experience because ever since I saw that damn show & started reading those damn books, my life has been consumed. I mean, it's all just too good to put down.
Believe me, I've tried.
I've tried reading other novels & watching other shows, but after Outlander, it's like swallowing dust when you're thirsting for water (seeing that this is generally a spiritual blog, I had to throw that Bible reference in there. Props to me.)
In all seriousness though, this blog post is about fantasy, idolatry and the worlds we create in our heads. It's really easy to do. We connect with a book or show, see endearing qualities in a character or person, we compare it to our own lives (which often never seem good enough) and POOF!
Welcome to Fantasyland.
I know I'm not alone in this. I hear people talk about it all the time and often they don't realize how much of a fantasy they've created in their heads and how much it effects their everyday lives. Seeing that I have experience with addiction, I think I'm lucky to have the perspective that I do. It's more visible to me. That doesn't mean it's easier to conquer, I'm just hyper-aware of it.
Now let me point out that I'm all for expanding ones mind with literature and find no fault in entertainment. My issue comes when we use that entertainment to fill a void or to escape reality. I've been in that place many times and have to be very mindful not to let myself get enveloped by it now. If my choice of entertainment simply becomes an escape from the REAL world, then I have a problem. In regards to Sam & Outlander, I haven't reached that point yet... but I've gotten dangerously close. I constantly have to remind myself to stay in the present. It's not always easy or fun, but it's necessary for ME, to be healthy.
Ok, back to Outlander & Mr. Heughan...
Sam Heughan plays Jamie Fraser, a character “Outlander” fans refer to as “The King of Men.” I thought it was cheesy at first too, but if you read the books, you'd know why... again, proceed with caution! Jamie Fraser is a hunky, masculine Scot with humility & integrity. He loves fiercely and almost always says/does the right thing. Even if he makes a mistake he always does his best to make it right. And that accent? Truly to die for, even on paper. He's pretty much every woman's ideal man. It's been said time & time again by many involved in the production of the show that Sam Heughan IS Jamie Fraser, in that he truly embodies not only the physical, but personality & character traits of this fictional character.
This, in and of itself, makes it hard enough to distinguish between fantasy and reality. People are literally telling us that they are the same person.

I'm sorry, but they are not.

Quick distinction: Jamie Fraser is a fictional character created by a brilliant woman. Sam Heughan is a living, breathing, man created by God. Kudos God, KUDOS. Ok, moving on.
Lately I've noticed a lot of comments about Sam being “perfect”. Several people have referenced his lack of sweat while running the LA Marathon as an embodiment of said perfection. Others have posted photo-shopped, perfectly-lit pictures and asked “How are you even human?!” The list goes on. Needless to say, it's getting on my nerves.
I get it. Really, I DO!
He's my "good on paper" guy too. He's tall, VERY attractive and seemingly an all-around good guy. He supports a charity, encourages fitness, is gracious to his fans and more. Ehem, have you seen those eyes? Seriously, don't look directly into them. You will lose all concept of space and time.
But here's the thing, he's NOT perfect (I know, I know, sorry to burst your bubble). He is a man, just like any other man. Granted, he's a very good looking, charismatic, and engaging man, but he's still, JUST A MAN. (Outlander fans, please do not tar & feather me, I'm only speaking the truth, ignore it if you like... I sure as heck did for like 3 months and cannot fault you for doing so too!)
As I contemplate this truth, I can see how easy it was for me to get caught up in the hype. We see him as Hollywood, his PR people, and possibly even he himself, want us to see him. We see his impeccable portrayal of Jamie Fraser on screen. We see him in photos, complete with perfect lighting, hair & makeup, and photoshop. We read his interviews that undoubtedly are edited to pique the fans interest and draw them in further. We see him raising money for charity and running marathons and doing all sorts of noble things... and it makes us swoon.
But again, I remind you, he is just a man.
I have no doubt that Sam Heughan is as he portrays himself to be: humble, kind, philanthropic, congenial, intelligent, and dedicated. I have met him (albeit briefly) in person and all of these things were VERY evident to me. But the reality is, he could be a complete douche and we'd never even know it. He does make his living as an actor, after all.
(TO BE CLEAR, I'm not saying Sam Heughan is a douche. FAR FROM IT.)
I simply find it dangerous to put him or any other person on a pedestal. Not only dangerous to ourselves, as individuals, but dangerous to those we elevate. What happens when he inevitably makes a human error in public? We've already seen it happen on Twitter – a simple grammatical error brought the fandom to a halt as they scolded & corrected him. And don't even get me started on what seeing him leave a party with a young blonde did to some of these people. I'm still picking my jaw off the floor after that one. What happens when he says or does something that collectively the fandom may not agree with? What happens when the fantasy comes crumbling down?
I have no doubt that he will be able to handle himself with grace & dignity, but will WE?!
Will our fantasy world make it impossible for us to forgive him for being human?
Are we so easy to forget the many times our “idols” have failed to meet our expectations in the past?
It may seem trifle to some of you that this is even a topic I bother to discuss. But I've seen first hand the damage excessive fantasy does to a person. By believing him to be perfect we deny him his humanity and the ability to make mistakes and be himself. We doom him, the actor, to being squeezed inside a Jamie-Fraser-shaped box for the rest of his time on the show, possibly for the rest of his career.
Perfection has its moments and it is undoubtedly a beautiful thing to witness. But in the end, something has got to give. Somehow, somewhere, our idols, our fantasies and our expectations of what is perfect will fail us. It sucks, I know. I don't like it either. But it's the truth.
So how do we bring ourselves back to a state of reality?
Well, that might have to be another blog for another day, because it's not something I've quite figured out yet, not to mention this post is already about 10 paragraphs too long... But I do know what my first step is (other than a much-needed “Outlander Detox” - you think I'm joking, but the struggle is real)... It is to stay in the present and be mindful of how my time is spent. It is to ask myself what the motivation behind it all is and if what I'm doing, saying, and thinking glorifies God or not. If the answer is no, then I need to check myself. HARD.
I know this sounds crazy, but I'm pretty sure ogling Sam's hands (yes, I've done it... don't you know that's what hardcore Outlander fans do?) or dissecting how much sweat he excretes while running isn't really doing much to elevate the Kingdom of God.
Sorry to disappoint, y'all.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog