I’m going to tell you a story, but I won’t name names as I quite fancy working in the future and I’m not here to dunk on them more than I have to. Years ago, I was given the opportunity to interview a famous, incredibly talented hip-hop producer and rapper. I was elated, having fallen in love with his music in college and followed his career closely, happily forking out hundreds of dollars to see him live a few times. The interview was scheduled for a hot July afternoon at an art gallery. Arriving at the venue, I was met by a series of strange sights. There was a group of young people dressed in clothing more appropriate for a British winter – rain macs, fedoras, three-piece suits – all taking pictures of each other, and a famous street artist milling about on his own. The rapper’s enormous security man was lying down on a chaise longue and three attractive women in little black cocktail dresses were giggling over a smartphone. Finally, the star himself was standing in the centre of the room on a Persian rug, head tilted back, mouth open and inhaling McDonald’s fries. It all fit perfectly with my vision of the eccentric rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Alas, that’s where the fun ended. The interviewee had been told beforehand what kind of interview we were going to do – a profile piece – but after the first three questions his eyes glazed over. After the sixth question I was getting a lot of sighs, short, one-word answers and passive-aggressive suggestions that I should google the answers. It was going badly and I wanted to end the interview as soon as I could but then I figured I would ask him what he wanted to talk about. Of course, at this point he became animated, name-dropping all his friends and new projects, talking endlessly about stuff that didn’t meet the story angles I had pitched to the editor. At the end of the interview, I said my goodbyes and slinked out the door deflated at not being able to do my job but more so because this person did not live up to my idea of them. There’s a saying that you should never meet your heroes, and for me that was painfully true. I am recounting this story now in solidarity with the millions of people who have been recently disappointed by their own heroes. Covid-19 and now the Black Lives Matter protests have shown us that social-media influencers and reality stars are as vapid and pointless as we all secretly knew they were. I’m sure we’ve all read about Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling setting her legacy on fire by tweeting that, for her, trans women can’t be women. Aside from the transphobia, Rowling has gone guns blazing into one controversy while the rest of the world is focused on another – the Black Lives Matter movement. Those who have focused on Black Lives Matter have witnessed those who should be natural leadersalienating their followers. And none more so than Off-White founder and Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director Virgil Abloh, the highest profile black designer in fashion. Virgil Abloh, founder of Off White & artistic creator of LOUIS VUITTON really had the nerve to share his $50 donation. pic.twitter.com/qMh3n2lrf7 — The Academy Music Business (@BenjaminEnfield) June 1, 2020 As I write, Abloh is still back-pedalling after a series of PR gaffes. First, there was a social media post that seemed to blast people looting his friend’s store. “This disgusts me […] We’re part of a culture together. Is this what you want?? When you walk past [designer Sean Wotherspoon] in the future please have the dignity to not look him in the eye, hang your head in shame,” Abloh wrote on Instagram before making things worse by attempting to separate streetwear as a community from “streetwear as a commodity”. Abloh was accused of being tone deaf, more so as other designers such as Marc Jacobs who had their stores looted played down the actions with statements such as, “Property can be replaced, human lives cannot.” But that wasn’t all. Abloh posted a screenshot on Instagram showing that he had donated US$50 to a protester bail fund. It later transpired that Abloh was just matching a donation and he claims he has donated much more, but given the prior mess-up and the fact that the cheapest item at Off-White or Louis Vuitton is usually well over US$100, the internet was not kind to him and he was lambasted for tone deafness once again. Long-running accusations that there was a jarring lack of diversity at Off-White also resurfaced. Fans of Rowling, Abloh and countless other heroes who have shot themselves in the foot in recent months are probably reconsidering their future purchasing decisions. To them I offer this salve from my own experience – embrace the fact that celebrities, artists, musicians and sports stars are human with human failings and keep your expectations low. That way you won’t care as much when they err. On the other hand, there will always be a steady stream of heroes you haven’t yet met.