Along with a good lawyer, an agent and a PR representative, celebrity miscreants now need an enabler: the person who indulged them in their vices and so can be blamed for failing to get them to stop. 'Who enabled Tiger Woods?' is one of those questions, like 'Who lost China?', that seems to demand an answer, when really it is just a way of avoiding the fact that Tiger Woods, like China, is responsible for his own misfortunes. Enablers to the rich and famous usually fall into the uncertain category that lies somewhere between employee and friend, which is what makes it so hard for them to call time on their boss/buddy's misbehaviour. These are the people who go to the parties, make sure the girls and the drugs find their way to the right table, then help to clear up the mess in the morning. But enablers are also useful when the mess comes to light, because they can be cast as the villains of the piece, the ones who allowed the whole thing to spin out of control. How can anyone be expected to get a handle on his or her problems when surrounded by lickspittles like these? By dumping on the enabler, the celebrity can be recast in the more comfortable role of victim.
LRB 25 March 2010 | PDF Download