Is fame the new love? -- Kiki Clark
I lunched with my writer friend Richard Goode-Allen, and we covered our usual topics of writing, relationships, writing conferences, children, writing revisions, and personal growth. We were standing on the curb, trying to disengage before our parking meters ran out, when he summed up that day's particular conversation by saying, "Fame is the new love."
Consider the following.
- A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showed that 51% of people in their 20s picked "to be famous" as their generation's most important goal in life.
Now, granted, the five choices (wealth, fame, altruism, leadership and spirituality) did not include love or happiness. But fame?
It used to be that if you wanted to be picked out of a crowd ("You, with the face!"), you had to at least dress up and go to Hollywood. Now YouTube, blog notoriety and reality shows give the impression that Andy Warhol's ubiquitous 15 minutes have lengthened to at least three seasons of television and a recording contract, followed by permanent residency in the tabloids. Princeton Review lists "personal assistant to someone famous" as one of the best entry-level jobs. Sure, you might work up to 80 hours a week, but you also get "a glimpse of how the truly fabulous live," as well as access to "the glamour professions."
Of course there is a downside to fame. To see that, you only have to look at Britney Spear's pathetically denuded pate on a magazine cover. Fame means that everything -- the way you treat your children and pets, your bad habits, your addictions, your finances, your career, your house, your sex life, your skin, your hair, the jokes you tell and the company you keep -- is scrutinized and criticized by everyone who sits in a dentist's waiting room or takes a magazine into the john. If the Pew Research Center had included "complete loss of privacy" as a goal choice, how many people would have chosen that?
Richard and I have a theory that this phenomenon is circular. In a culture that values wealth, fame and general fabulousness, the idea of compromise and (gasp!) sacrificing things that you want for the good of a relationship seems intolerable. And yet, without some one to love you, where do you get your emotional support and validation? From the masses, baby!
For those who list fame as their most important goal, I have a few questions. Is fame easier to get than love? Does it require less personal sacrifice? If everyone found love, would love be worth any less? As more people achieve fame for less reason, what is fame worth?