Fame is Poison

1 12 2009

The new justification for criminal or abusive behavior: auditioning for a reality show!

People will do anything and everything to be famous. That’s not new. What’s new is the internet, the 24 hour media cycle, and television finding new bottoms to race to. Today’s media rewards the jackasses. For every talented performer on the air, there are a hundred insta-celebs known only for being idiots or assholes or both. The nature of celebrity is changed by their successful soul-selling. They have erected a freak-show tent over the whole enterprise.

I’ve said before, the age of the megastar is over. Michael Jackson is probably the last universally known household name. Was he a victim of the fame-monster of recent years? Arguably, no. His followers were always fans more than sniggering schadenfreudians. His troubles started long before John & Kate. Even so, one could read his life as a map of the cultural trajectory that inverts the idol and pedestal, and turns the pedestal into an upturned bucket of shit.

I always wanted to be famous. But fame has become a plague on society. It makes me question the wisdom of desiring such a thing. It also makes me supremely grateful that we have splintered into subcultures and niche markets. There are different kinds of fame, and the kind I’ve always craved is pretty low key. No hordes of screaming fans, no autographs in the street, just reaching an audience and making a living and demonstrating a certain amount of skill. Today it’s easier than ever to have one kind without the other.

 

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