Fame 3/30/19

Let’s talk a little bit about fame.

There are a few things about fame that I want to get off of my chest. And, to be clear, no, I’m not talking about my own fame, of which I have none. While I adore my readers and am eternally grateful to those who follow my blog, the reality is that there are not enough to warrant “fame”. If you double my followers, then multiply by ten, and add all of the followers of U2, divided by seven and raised to the third power, then I might have a bit of fame.

But there are some aspects of fame that I just don’t get. First of all, let’s talk about “bothering” celebrities in public. There has been a lot of talk about how rude it is to interrupt them when they are out in public, and I get that. Everybody deserves to be able to go out and relax, enjoy a nice dinner, see a movie, visit a park without thinking about work, but there is a flip side to this coin. For the people, seeing a celebrity live and in person is exciting. The opportunity to shake a hand or grab a picture may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet an actual living hero to that person. In a sense, fan adoration is part of the job of being a celebrity, to be bigger-than-life, to bring joy and excitement to people.

My point isn’t that we need to leave celebrities alone, or that celebrities have to give over their entire lives to the fans. But, couldn’t we find some kind of middle ground? Can’t the fans settle on a level of decorum, and celebrities show a certain level of appreciation? Some celebrities have made it a point to play with their stardom. They will literally walk the streets greeting fans, and playing with them. I recall a story of one such star coming across a young man who fell asleep in a fast food restaurant, and the star picked up his cell phone and snapped selfies with the unsuspecting snoozer, stealing his fries. Seriously, how cool is that!

Unfortunately, there are too many people who are far too aggressive (even psychotic) when it comes to stars, so I get when they want to “disappear” if a crowd gets out of control or one fan gets too involved. One of my favorite actresses from the ’80’s, who lived in Colorado, was murdered by one of these fans. She refused to take extra precautions because of her fame, and tried to reflect the appreciation for them of which I speak by continuing to live her simple life, and she paid the ultimate price for it. I have no answers. There are tragedies enough to go around.

Fame does mess with people’s self-image. Far too many celebrities act as though they believe that their fame somehow makes them better people and entitles them to pretty much anything they want. Money and fame entitles the individual to nothing. Period. But, it does carry a responsibility.

When one is famous, it gives the individual’s voice a larger reach. Recently, I saw a discussion on a public forum of a famous individual who started dating a racist and made antisemitic remarks. The famous person in question is nobody I particularly followed, so I was completely unaware, but my young friend (who is as close to a daughter as ever I’ve had) was a huge fan of this individual. These remarks and actions crushed my friend, and I know that this individuals “fame credit” has decreased significantly because of this.

But, famous people have been getting more and more involved in politics. Their support (or opposition to) political candidates, environmental actions, social issues is palpable. Some have ridiculed these celebrities, saying that their fame doesn’t make them experts in the field. Yet, they are Americans, and one thing we ALL cherish is the right to express our opinion.

There are pros and cons here as well. I will always support anybody’s right to express their opinion, even if I disagree. Provided it did not cross the line to inciting to violence or threats, even the racist antisemite had the right to express opinions, and it seems that many of the fans responded in the appropriate manner by simply turning away. So, yes, listen to the opinions of the famous, but don’t believe them just because of their name. They provide a valuable service in bringing to light issues that deserve attention, but because they are not experts, I always consider the issue and come to my own conclusion. One of my favorite stars has been speaking out in favor of issues with opinions I vehemently oppose, but I respect his courage in speaking out on these topics and won’t stop following simply because I disagree.

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