An Obsession with Fame

I admit to having a craving for fame. I think most people do. The key with me is that I always wanted a strange kind of fame. The ways I have chosen to try and make my name known is through writing and then radio. Both of them tend to be jobs done by people in isolation and often using fake names. For the entire time I was in Rockford I was known as Bryan Wayne, for example. Thanks to the miracle of voicetracking I was sometimes at my job in Chicago while, at the same time, doing the mid-day shift in Rockford. It was like having super powers.

These days, however, fame seems to be everywhere and people at least seem to want it more than ever before. Look at the people who line up for shows like “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent.” Most of them have to know they suck and most of them are just hoping to end up on television.

The American public seems to be craving knowledge of celebrities. I gave up, a few years ago, watching television shows like “Entertainment Tonight” or “Access Hollywood.” I used to watch one or both of those shows every day but at some point I began to realize I just didn’t care. Yes, I was interested in what movies were coming out and what projects various directors and actors were working on. However, I began not to care about where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were having their baby and when. What does that have to do with either of their careers and what does their child have to do with my life? Little or nothing would be the answer you were looking for.

These days those shows have to put a celebrity spin on everything. Do I really need to watch an hour about how Britney Spears feels about September 11 or hurricane Katrina? Do I really need to know that Nick and Jessica decided to marry one another after the terrorist attacks? The answer to that question would be no as well.

I used to really resent the whole fame process. That happens when you are trying to get a novel published that you think has some real artistic and entertainment value or you are trying to get into radio. Then you turn around and a knucklehead like Kato Kaelin is getting a radio show in Los Angeles by being the world’s most famous freeloader. Peter Rose has had a pretty successful sports radio career. All he had to do was gamble and get thrown out of baseball for the rest of his life. G. Gordon Liddy does conservative radio and all he had to do was become an integral part of the Watergate scandal that brought down a president. I began to wonder if the only way I would ever get a book published or a full time radio gig was to be involved in a scandal. I mean, look at Danny Bonaduce. The man is a walking disaster and yet he continues to get full-time radio jobs and a reality television show on VH-1.

The whole reality television thing has worn thin with me. How many of these people will actually go on to do anything worthwhile? I have yet to see any of them do anything and yes I am including Elizabeth Hasselbeck on “The View.” Don’t even get me started on that show. For a while I began to wonder if that Trista person from “The Bachelorette” was ever going to get off of television. First we watched her pick the guy. Then we had the extremely ridiculous show detailing her plans to marry. I was wondering if we would go along on the honeymoon and then be there in the delivery room when they decided to have kids.

You no longer need talent to be famous. Paris Hilton would be the prime example of that. She just released an album. I guarantee you she had to get famous for being famous before anyone would even consider a Paris Hilton album. Just what the world was craving – another blonde girl singing stupid and cheesy dance songs that are indistinguishable from each other. Hillary Duff wasn’t fulfilling that particular niche enough?

Not long ago I heard that Paris said she was going to retire. Like most people my first reaction was, retire from what? What had she been doing that would require retirement? Retirement from filming sex videos? Retirement from walking on red carpets? Retirement from wasting air time and valuable oxygen? Does Paris ever look like she is enjoying what she is doing? Even in the sex video she looks like she’d rather be anywhere else.

I am guessing there have always been people who were famous just for being famous and people who were famous just for being notorious. The entire musical play “Chicago” is all about that. It just seems like with the internet and twenty-four news stations the opportunities to be famous, even for a few minutes, has grown. Also, apparently Andy Warhol got the timing wrong. I think everyone is going to be famous for maybe as long as an hour.

That’s the only explanation I can give for Ashlee Simpson’s continuing career.

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