My title is a bit exaggerated: there are loads of people out there to whom this does not apply. But still: our modern world has put fame within arms reach to millions. It may be fame for a day – but with reality tv and youtube a lot of people are finding their spot of celebrity. They are finding out too what people like Oprah have known for a long time: what is seen is not what is lived.
For some reason, who knows (perhaps some insight gleaned from ‘my’ time as a servant to the king of France during the French revolution?) I knew as a kid that I’d never want to be queen. I knew that life in the limelight has severe limitations. There’s millions watching your every move. There’s having to always look your best. There’s having one aspect of your life brought into sharp focus by celebrity – but every other aspect of your life left just as it is.
Oprah showed this recently by sharing with us just why she’s been gaining weight. She had a camera in her living room and shared with us just how hard it has been for her to be on stage with some of the most successfully in shape people in the world (Cher and Tina Turner) – knowing her own body was nowhere near that slim. Despite all she has been doing to try and keep her body TV presentable. Because for her weight is not just personal (though it inevitably is) it’s also public.
In our time celebrity has become personal. Oprah is one example of this: talking about a topic that affects millions of people in the US and the developed world, she has always made sure her own issues with that were in the open as well. I admire that. No way the king of France in the 18th century would have had to share his issues with weight with the world.
But, paradoxically, Oprah must also know just how effective it is for her to be brutally honest about this stuff. It’s not just very brave of her, it is also great marketing. Great TV is made that way. So for her, being personal is also professional. And we know that Oprah is very precise about what she does and doesn’t want to share with the world. I think that is wise.
I wrote about online marketing and the ego on Monday. In this post I want to show that this issue goes beyond that: the illusions of fame affect each person who makes a name for themselves through our modern media. Made a video on youtube that got thousands of votes? You know what I’m talking about then. Been on ‘made’ on MTV, same thing: instant fame. Instant spotlight.
And with that spotlight come all these temptations. Like thinking that this is all there is to you. Got famous for being able to burp in a way that the whole world loves to laugh at? Don’t think you are only your burp. Got famous for being a cross dressing male very capable of dancing to a famous tune? Well perhaps you want to be a professional dancer – great for you.
But it’s still only one aspect of who you are. And it’s only one point in time. Your video too will likely be forgotten. Your life will go on. Your bills still need to be paid. Your personal life will likely be as crappy or great as it was before. Even if you can leverage that fame to get to the next level in your dancing career, your video only got you in the door. You still have to be a great dancer each day of your performing life.
Which does not make these videos any less fun:
[When I wrote the above post I had a video in mind of a scantily clad guy dancing to some lady’s song in his own room, but I can’t find it on youtube. Not surprising: I don’t remember the song, the artist or the name of the guy. If anybody can figure out which video I mean, I’m much obliged and will post it here. And no: it wasn’t dirty.
BTW – without realizing it, I have no published 101 posts on this blog :)]