A proclamation from the mogul and family patriarch Logan Roy to his children in the HBO series Succession is, “I love you, but you are not serious people.” I have been thinking about how many people in the public domain today are not serious people—that is to say, you can’t take them seriously. They have become almost caricatures of who they aim to be.
Truth be told, I find this revelation about the preponderance of unserious people disturbing. How is it that so many people who have substantive positions or are celebrities in the constant spotlight have gone off the deep end?
Here is a random list of people who are difficult to take seriously in no particular order.
George Santos. An imaginative novelist could not dream up this character who is a Republican congressman from Long Island, NY. How did this guy get elected? He lied about where he went to high school and college. He lied about his religion. He lied about working on Wall Street. He lied about founding an animal charity. He lied about claiming that his mother’s death was related to 9/11. In short, he has lied about pretty much everything. He is the least serious person in Congress today—and that says a lot. It is beyond bizarre that this guy roams the hallowed halls of the Capitol building.
Marjorie Taylor Greene. The congresswoman from Georgia has said January 6 protestors have had their rights “fragrantly violated,” has lied about the definition of Critical Race Theory, has called a petri dish a “peach tree” dish, and has referred to the “gazpacho police,” and “wonton killings.” And that, fellow reader, is the tip of the iceberg.
Josh Hawley. It’s hard for me to get off my Josh Hawley soapbox. A Republican Senator from Missouri, who writes a book called Manhood, fist pumps January 6 Capitol insurrectionists, and when he finds himself in danger after the Capitol break-in becomes deadly serious, scurries away, tripping over people in an effort to run for cover.
Ron DeSantis. The current governor of Florida and Republican contender for the 2024 presidential nomination, has already become somewhat of a caricature. This governor has taken on the so-called “woke” mob, banned books in schools, and then taken on Disney for its inclusive approach to hiring. And folks, we have only just begun.
J Lo and Ben Affleck. Like many other movie stars, they claim to be strong environmentalists. Within the last month, they purchased a 38,000 square foot $60 million mansion in Beverly Hills. That’s right, 38,000 square feet. How environmentally sound is that? How big is that carbon footprint? Obviously, it’s great to have a nice pad when you have tons of money, but does any family require 38,000 square feet? Call me crazy, but would 19,000 square feet suffice? And, by the way, they own more than one home.
Kanye West. This rapper recently legally changed his name to Ye with no middle or last name. Ye once claimed that his greatest regret was not being able to see himself perform live. And he said he is too busy writing history to read it. My case rests.
Johnny Depp. Many claim he is an extremely talented actor. That may be so, but during the Amber Heard trial he admitted to painting on walls with the blood from his finger. In earlier days, he also admitted to spending $5 million blasting Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes from a cannon.
Lauren Boebert. A Republican Congresswoman from Colorado, Boebert’s Christmas card features her four young sons holding semi-automatic rifles in front of the Christmas tree. She has made several anti-Muslim and anti LGBTQ+ remarks. During Biden’s State of the Union speech, she heckled him and turned her back on the Cabinet. She promotes family values, but her husband, who recently filed for divorce, once exposed his private parts in a bar the couple owned.
Robert Kennedy Jr. He is the only Democrat to date to announce that he is running against Joe Biden in the next election. While getting kudos for his work as an environmental lawyer, he has drawn sharp criticism for his promotion of conspiracy theories, for his anti-vaccine stance, for his claim that Bill Gates was pro-vaccine so he could make more money, and who equated Dr. Fauci with fascism and claimed that Fauci was in the pocket of big pharma. When his book The Real Anthony Fauci was published, Fauci called it, “a complete lie.” He has also claimed that federal health officials conspired with the Chinese to hide the pandemic’s origins. Many in his own family refuse to support his candidacy.
Mark Zuckerberg. His accomplishments are beyond impressive. He is the CEO of Facebook (and now its parent company Meta) and has donated billions of dollars to medical research. He became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire at age 23. His net worth is estimated at $85 billion. He has, for many years, been described as “quirky.” At one time, he challenged himself to eat meat only if he killed it himself. He said he wanted to be more connected to the food and the animals that give their lives so that he could eat them. He wore a tie to work every day for a whole year to prove to his employees he was a serious person. His power is complicated because, as he has claimed when testifying in Congress, if he controls content, he becomes even more powerful. He has a history of apologizing—mostly about misinformation posted on Facebook. And he has repeatedly apologized to users to whom he promised that their information would remain private. He then repeatedly allowed it to be made public.
Rudy Giuliani. Once “America’s mayor,” this guy has clearly fallen from grace. His appearance in Borat 2 will live in infamy. He peddled disinformation relentlessly after the 2020 election. He recently was accused of sexual assault. And who can forget his stellar performance on the Masked Singer or seeing hair dye dripping down his face during a press conference when he claimed election interference?
Aaron Rodgers. I must admit that after living in Green Bay for two years, I became a Green Bay Packers fan and have watched Rodgers play too many games to count. He is a great quarterback—no doubt about it. But he has gotten increasingly weird. He was weird about the vaccine (immunized not vaccinated). Weird about unconventional methods of self-reflection and mind-altering drugs. And most recently weird when he decided to decide his football future by going to a four-day sensory-deprivation total darkness retreat in a hobbit-like structure called a “sky cave.”
Lindsey Graham. The Republican senator from South Carolina is the ultimate flip-flop man. Once best friends with republican Arizona Senator, John McCain, Graham’s backtracks on issues are too numerous to count. When Graham was running for president against Trump, his distaste for the man was off the charts. He said he didn’t even vote for him in the 2016 election but instead voted for a third-party candidate. How times have changed! He is now Trump’s major wingman and ultimate toady. He has stated that if Trump gets indicted, there will be violence in the streets—in a sense encouraging another insurrection.
Donald Trump. He is my last example. He is a liar, a cheat—the ultimate grifter. Where Graham is a flip-flop man, Trump is a flim-flam man. He is not a serious person. And when president, he made no effort to fill his cabinet with serious people. He certainly made no effort to do a deep dive and promote America’s policies and priorities. Instead, he made a mockery of pretty much every American institution.
The big question is why is this happening? Why do we idolize these people? Why do we settle for mediocrity and worse? Many psychologists opine that Americans are going through an identity crisis. We don’t know who we are or who we want to be. So, what do we do? We glom onto people’s points of view who are constantly in the news. Psychologists theorize that we use these people as some kind of life raft to hold onto. Also, over the last few decades, many people have achieved fame without exhibiting any real talent or expertise—think social media mavens like the Kardashians. With the rise of social media, we find ourselves wanting to be entertained as opposed to being educated—hence the rise of Donald Trump. Unfortunately, our quest for competence and expertise has been kicked to the curb.
Where have all the serious people gone? Let’s hope and pray, to quote Peter, Paul, and Mary, not to “graveyards every one.” When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?
Maria Grant was principal-in-charge of a federal human capital practice at an international consulting firm. While on the Eastern Shore, she focuses on writing, music, reading, gardening, and nature.