19 September 2014

Not-so-grand-thing No. 3: Fame

With the suicide by hanging of 62 year old iconic actor and comedian, Robin Williams, a few weeks ago, it seems pretty fitting to think about fame. Fame, celebrity status and popularity are thought to be grand things! Yet, this is one thing that doesn't require much to see for what it really is: something not grand at all.

It's interesting that almost everyone wants to be famous but almost everyone famous deeply desires anonymity. It's one of those things that everyone is running towards while everyone who has found it is running away from. It's also interesting that, today, fame is an occupation. 'Socialites' are people who are really popular but not because of any particular achievement(s) or ability on their part. Many are born to extremely wealthy parents and find themselves in the company of the most elite of people and begin to develop reputations with the media. Needing no income in their lives and therefore needing no work, their occupation literally becomes being popular.

Even those who are a little popular do crazy things and many times demeaning things to get even more popular. These acts of desperation to become popular are commonly referred to as 'publicity stunts'. Young ladies who want to become famous models often have to secure opportunities for themselves by sleeping with the powers that be.

Of course there are advantages to being popular otherwise no one would bother to strive to become famous. We all want to walk into a room and be noticed or turn heads. It feels a little depressing to walk into a room and an hour later word reaches you that people are wondering if you're around. Apart from that fame brings with it great opportunities to make money, get promoted, get favours that otherwise would not come one's way. In Hollywood particularly, being famous will go a long way in propagating your career as an actor/actress. Fame however is certainly not as grand as it is made out to be.

Hello Fame = Goodbye Anonymity

One thing that I deeply treasure is anonymity. The ability to walk into a place and be just one of the faces in a crowd. In that sense, I feel sorry for popular people who simply need to walk into an eating place or parking lot and are immediately recognized by everyone. The trouble with this is of course the loss of privacy. We all want some privacy from time to time. There is no such thing when you are popular, that goes out the window. For as long as you are in a public place people will notice you. Also we don't always feel and look great and anonymity, i.e., being a mere face in a crowd, allows us to get away with being in a public place when we aren't really at our best. The pressure to look and be at your best for the famous on the other hand is huge since they need to keep their reputation afloat.

Hello Fame = Hello Critics

Fame always attracts criticism. When you're in the public eye, you will be criticized because, for starters, being a public figure is a responsibility. You will always represent something or some people and you will always be looked up to in one way or other and so the critical eyes on you do not spare you when you slip up. Some critics are malicious and simply want to bring you down. It's an occupational hazard that just doesn't go away. For some reason, critics always have an immerse effect on us. I'm always amazed at movie and music critics. They pounce on the work of award winning artists when they themselves have had no success or recognition in the area. I'd like to see movie critics make a movie and would certainly like to hear an album by a music critic. I don't think they'd do anything noteworthy but they readily eat the people they criticize alive without a second thought. Even though artists know this, they find it extremely upsetting to read critiques of their work. In fact, certain artists stay away from the press, newspapers and the internet completely to avoid reading the harsh criticism that so often is there found. Words hurt and critics know how to crush the famous, especially when the mess up.

Hello Fame = Hello Pressure

Fame comes with natural pressure. Doesn't matter whether you're a movie star of a popular preacher, when you meet people, you're under self imposed pressure to put up a bright face no matter how dull your life is. Somehow you feel that you have to keep up appearances and keep it all together even if it's all falling apart. The pressure only increases as you battle through the challenges of life with little support because only a few people know what you're really going through (if any) and before long you can't take it any longer and you're headline news after hanging yourself. This goes on all the time in popular media and Hollywood.

So then, do you want to be famous? Careful what you wish for.