Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This Charming Discussion About Fame

My interest in fame is such that on one hand, it clearly comes from that same voyeuristic mentality that is what powers Yahoo News. I'm not going to lie. Some of my Google updates include "Britney Spears" and "Celebrity Memoir." On the other hand, my interest in fame is that actually, what I'm really interested in beyond the gossip is the psychology behind the gossip. Or at least that's what I tell myself; I love good commentary about that voyeurism.

I LOVE when celebrities talk about their experiences with fame. It's so outside what most of us experience in the day to day. So I guess there's some redeeming quality to the "No, you unload the food out of the shopping cart for the grocery store cashier to ring up, I'm reading Star Magazine"-impulse. I mean, it's OK to read US Weekly if you say smart things about it, right?



I loved in Morrissey's book Autobiography, he had so much to say about his experiences with it. He's so thoughtful and wonderfully complain-y about it, as exactly I wanted him to be. I think the pithiest one was this one, on page 436:

"Fame can demand upon you a sudden wish to get along unseen, after those riddled years of wanting nothing at all but to be heard. It is important not to make matters of business the final word, and although eccentricity is now permissible--since your art has paid its dues in the swamp of self-torment and the scars of failures, even your mis-steps can suddenly seem honorable. You are, in any case, disqualified from what is known as 'normal' society (that is the society in which none qualify as being 'normal' since 'normal' doesn't actually exist) because you don't fit into anyone's drab philosophy. You have cast yourself in the starring role of an unfilmed despised-while-living-acclaimed-when-dead standard melodrama, and you are only inclined to discuss the rumors about yourself that you most like to have circulated. This is considered egotistical to anyone of famous platform, yet not to window cleaners and anonymous citizens to whom it also applies in precisely the same measure."

We have such high standards for our celebrities don't we? It's OK for the common person to worry what people think of us, but as non-celebrities, we have this image that when it's cleat that a celebrity worries about what people think of them they're considered egotistical. Like it's OK for a window washer to be concerned about their image but not for Morrissey? He's got a point there.

Also! I love, love, love the bit about how after years of wanting everyone to know who you you then get famous and then all you want is some privacy. That makes so much sense to me. It's also clear to me that that's why there are all those songs that pop stars record many albums or years into their career where they're all like, "Paparazzi! Leave me alone!" It's like Oh god, the novelty of this has worn off. I just want to like, go get my groceries now. Fame then becomes a handicap. I can't remember where I read this, but some writer was talking about how most people think it would be awesome for everybody to focus on them in the crowd in the way we do celebrities, but it's actually the exact opposite fantasy for folks who have some kind of disability. They're used to being the focus in the crowd but they don't want to be, and their fantasy is to actually be in a crowd and have no one notice them. Being conspicuous in a crowd when you have some sort of disability is like the shitty side of celebrityness. It's kind of crazy. It's like that scene in Little Man Tate where the genius kid who has all this focus on him is having a hard time with all the focus on him, and he has this dream where he sits down next to himself, and the self of him that's sitting on the bench, who is in leg braces and is disabled. It's a poetic and freaky scene.

I also love the bit about permissible eccentricity when you're famous, after you've proverbially paid your dues, but then you've also cast yourself as the despised-while-living-acclaimed-when-dead role, that somehow both of those things co-exist in the world of an arty public figure, I like this very much.

P.S. Some of my favorite parts of the book are when he's catty about other celebs that have done him wrong. Because that is some hilarious shit. And THAT DEFINITELY appeals to the Yahoo News part of my psyche. Read the stuff about Siouxsie. Then get back to me.

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