“Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme”
In our last installment of this feature we asked the general question of why we so prodigiously seek out fame. (You can read that feature here). Indeed, on a night when the American Music Awards are airing there appear to be 1,000 more reasons for such a desire. In any event, we all have our reasons. Here, however, we want to explore what some have said about what it’s like about achieving fame and living in it. We study this so we know what we are supposedly fighting for.
One of the greatest song writers of all time has to be Billy Joel and he once said this about his fame: “People want to know about your private life, your girlfriend, your habits: none of your business! I feel like I gave enough away by writing the music – I opened up my soul, what else do you want?” Beyonce had this to add: “I like it when I on the stage, but honestly, I would be very happy if I could cut it off, just enjoy my life when I wasn’t performing.” Marilyn Monroe had this to say: “Fame is like caviar, you know – it’s good to have caviar but not when you have it at every meal.” Finally, George Clooney really put the paradoxical life of fame in perspective by saying this (in a January 2014 Esquire UK interview):
“There are restrictions to this kind of fame. I haven’t walked in Central Park for 15 years. I’d like to, you know? The truth is you run as fast as you can towards it because it’s everything you want. Not just the fame but what it represents, meaning work, meaning opportunity. And then you get there and it’s shocking how immediately you become enveloped in this world that is incredibly restricting. It’s the price you pay.”
Interestingly, in a 2009 publication in the Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, a Michigan professor posited that there are four stages to accepting fame; love/hate, addiction, acceptance, and adaptation. However, here’s the kicker; the resulting byproduct typically includes a loss of self (i.e., becoming more an object than a person) and mistrust.
The lingering question then becomes even more intriguing and perhaps frustratingly elusive. Why would we put so much energy in pursuing something that is fleeting, ephemeral, and illusory? Think about it. Indeed, something happens to us just as some commentators have noted in cases like Whitney Houston; the fame becomes a drug or a dangerous merry-go-round that we just can’t get away from yet at the same time it wreaks havoc on our life but we crave more. Having said that, why would anyone want that? Indeed, why do we want that?
In our next and final segment we will try and tie this all up and reach a conclusion. In the mean time, what are your thoughts? How would you deal with living with fame from what you know of it?
Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor