Fortunes of fame
We were watching an episode of "Numb3rs" yesterday (and incidentally, it’s a pretty good show) and the story was about this singer who kills a paparazzi who was hounding her. Her final words in the show were to the effect, "they always say that the hounding we get is the price of our fame and now one of them has had to pay for it".
I scoffed at that statement at first – you mean the celebrities would actually give up fame if they had a chance? They really don’t want all that money, power and adulation? Then I asked myself another question. How does one become a celebrity? Why are we (as a race) so curious about the lives and actions of those we think are rich and/or famous? When somebody is hounded because they are well-known, isn’t it really a reflection of the fact that the general populace is hungry to know all about the lives of these people? Most importantly, why are we like that?
Why do we need to know about everybody else? This is not just about the rich and the famous. We all know of neighbourhood gossips who need to know everything going on around them. We often hear of stalkers who’ve taken this obsession about people to the next level. But why is this kind of thing so important to us? Does knowing what George Clooney had for dinner change any of our lives for the better? Does knowing who Cameron Diaz is sleeping with make us a better artist or painter or writer? If such information is totally useless with regards to making a difference to our own lives, why do we obsess about it?
On the flip side, would all of these celebrities be such celebrities if we didn’t make such a fuss about them? Yes, there are good artists, painters, actors, musicians etc. but why do we have to get into personality cults about them? Isn’t their work what is important and not the person? If we didn’t elevate them to such a high status and didn’t care one jot about their lives, would they be hounded by paparazzi? I don’t think so.
I find it a really interesting fact about humanity that we care more about learning about somebody else and their private life than we do about enriching our own. What does that say about us as a species? You can be the judge …