Scandals in Pop Culture and Machiavelli

In popular culture these days, there are an increasing number of scandals emerging and being exclusively covered by the media. In just these last couple months, incidents involving stars from many different fields have been central in the public’s eye. Ray Rice, Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, all these people are perfect examples of people with power who are not following Machiavellian values and are subsequently failing because of it.

In Chapter XXIII of The Prince, Machiavelli addresses the dangers of being famous and popular, warning against letting the glories of fame take control of one’s discipline and decision-making. In modern terms what would be the paparazzi are mentioned and the reader is advised to keep themselves protected. If there is anyone who does not follow these principles, it is Justin Bieber. Not only has Bieber been in legal trouble several times for assaulting paparazzi and letting them “get to him”, he is a prime example of how fame skews logic and prompts irrational behavior for attention. This past summer, he got in trouble for egging his neighbor’s house, illegal drag racing, and just last month he crashed his ATV into a minivan. Bieber is often used as an example of teen rebellion and causes many older generations’ heads’ to shake in embarrassment. By allowing himself to live in the moment and impulsively make rash decisions, Bieber goes against Machiavelli’s advice and allows himself to be made a fool again and again, severely lowering his value in the eyes of the general populace.

Chapter XXIV speaks of the Italians and how they are losing their territory not because of misfortune but because of lack of preparation. Machiavelli is very adamant about the necessity of drafting and training of the army, prompting the reader to understand that being prepared for adversity and downfall is a part of being powerful. The recent Ray Rice abuse case is a perfect example of how not to go about applying this ideal in your life. Ray Rice should have understood that beating his wife in that elevator, with the amount of media coverage he gets and how widely known he is, posed a substantial risk to his career and reputation. At the very least, he could have prepared a better cover-up story (or explanation) and made sure his wife was publicly supporting him. If Machiavelli was an advisor of Rice, he would be furious at his lack of preparation and say that he deserves the downfall that is to come.

With just these two examples of stars in trouble, it is evident that following Machiavellian ideals can be helpful even in today’s world.