👑The (non) Perfection of the King ~ written by Janet Bostic
Please don’t withdraw my fan card. Some might consider this heresy. I’ve thought long and hard. My love and devotion for all things Presley are as strong and sturdy as anyone’s. The bottom line is this. Our man, the one we all love, the one we hold most dear, the one we idolize and study and revere, fell on the short side of perfection. To say he was perfect and to heap that unwarranted and undeserved pressure upon him is untrue, unjust, and unfair.
I realize the very nature of my comment may be highly offensive to some. But I honestly think if Elvis were standing before me today, he’d smile and nod and shake his head in agreement, saying “it’s about time the truth be known.”. Transparency is always better than shaded truth.
How many times have we read “he never took a bad photo”, “he was pure perfection”, “he was the most beautiful man on the planet”. Ok, I concede the most beautiful part. That is simply common sense from anyone who has somewhat decent eyesight. But the truth is, he DID sometimes appear less than perfect in photos and he was NOT a perfect human being. He was a man, simply stated, incredibly handsome, incredibly talented and charismatic and gifted musically far and away above any other, but he still bled when cut. He was neither bullet proof nor super human. He became hurt and sad and insecure and defeated at times. It’s reflected in his music and substantiated by those who were close to him. To be less than perfect makes him stronger, not weaker. It makes him real, human and reachable.
It’s true he gave and gave and gave, until he could give no more. Monetarily, emotionally, physically, spiritually, he was often spent. I believe his motivation to give was of a pure and honest heart. But I also strongly believe it was this ideal of perfection that many times held him captive, a prisoner of his own shortcomings.
Elvis himself stated the man is one thing and the image is another. It’s very difficult to live up to an image. Certainly he knew and understood this better than anyone. It is said he didn’t want to disappoint his fans. He truly loved his fans. I believe that. It is also said he had concerns and fears he may someday be forgotten. While this now seems absurd, these were very real fears for him 41 years ago. Our current ideal of Elvis as perfection would have placed such incredible strain on him had that been the case at the time. The smaller increment of the idealism in his lifetime then presented a burden that was heavy. However the intensive and prevalent deifying that is so common now in death would have weighed on him considerably more. In short, we would have loved him to death.
I hope there is some understanding in my words. They are tempered with love and affection, for anyone who knows me understands how I feel about this man. But I have to take a step back now and then and regroup and realign my devotion. I’ve had to do so this past week. It seems the weeks leading up to Elvis Week hit me hard every year. It is very easy to be consumed and overwhelmed by the Presley mystique. It is much more powerful to see all his was rather than anything he wasn’t. But I love him enough to not do that disservice to him. I love him enough to stand firm in his humanity and frailties and shortcomings. I love that he was human. It’s easy to love perfection. But it is loving a less than perfect being that truly counts.
About the Author: Janet Bostic has been a fan of Elvis since the age of 5 (maybe before that!) and has studied his life as long as she can remember. She saw Elvis four times including once in 1976 when she received a scarf and enjoyed a kiss and some conversation with him. Janet has taken 4 trips to Graceland, with her earliest being in 1976 when Elvis lived there. She is visiting Graceland again in the Spring of 2019. Her favorite Elvis song is “Love Coming Down.” She is the mother of triplets and (just like Elvis) her only daughter’s name…is Lisa. Elvis has always been a huge part of her life.