Friday, October 13, 2006

3. You Do Not Want to be Famous

There is no easy way to put this, so I’ll just throw it out there early: you do not want to be famous. You may think you do, but only because you are comfortably anonymous right now and you think that nobody actually cares about you. Not only is this wrong (more people care about you that you probably think), but it also comes across as desperately needy and, as a consequence, very ugly.

Despite appearances to the contrary, everyone has self-esteem issues. Everybody thinks that they don’t get enough attention for the things they do. It may not be fair, but life doesn’t come with an owner’s manual and that’s not fair, either. That’s just the way things are and the sooner you get a grip on reality, the sooner you can start to figure out what parts of it are eligible for change.

Fame will not pay your bills. Fame will not enable you to escape your life, your location, your past, your marriage, your job or your family. Famous people still eat, sleep, defecate and have bad hair days. The only thing that fame will bring you is headaches.

Women: do you enjoy going to the grocery store wearing sweatpants and no makeup? Men: do you enjoy getting drunk on Saturday nights and puking outside the bar? Now imagine trying either of those things with a posse of paparazzi, desperate for a single photograph that they can sell for $400 to the National Enquirer.

That is fame. You do not want that.

You do not want to have to look perfect every day. You do not want to have to deal with seeing your personal life at point of purchase racks in the supermarket. You do not want to have deal with the crazy people on the internet who forget that you are a human being. You do not want to have to deal with fanfiction.

The absolute worst thing about fame is that it never really goes away. Not in this day and age. If you are one of those poor people unfortunate enough to share a name with a famous person, you know the hassle that comes with name recognition. If you’ve never met someone in this position, imagine that every time people read/hear your name, they say “oh, any relation to [famous person]?” If your answer is “Yes, that’s me,” then you will be treated to a quick rundown of your past, whether you wanted it or not.

The real downside to fame is that you lose your anonymity. You cannot walk down the street without worrying that you will be accosted at random. You cannot walk into a situation and create a first impression with people you’ve never met, because it’s already been done for you. Fame did that for you.

As far as I can tell, there is really no upside to being famous. You will still have to work. You will still have to deal with your relationships. You will still have to deal with your family. These things will not go away.

And woe unto you if you are an unsuccessful famous person.

My advice to you is to aim for something you can handle. Well-known is good. Well-known is manageable. Well-known will give you an audience, but allow you to avoid some of the hassles that come with being further up the food chain. But be careful, because it’s a short walk from well-known to outright famous and once you take that walk, you can’t disappear into the crowd anymore. And it’s brutal out there in the spotlight.