Being careful with what you’re wishing for

Merriam Webster believes ‘crotchety’ to be an old person’s affliction and I couldn’t disagree more. I can rock my crotchety without possessing more years than I know what to do with. After all, forty seven is the new “What the fuck are you looking at?”

Take these “Dress like a Celebrity” Days- the Spirit Week activity many schools take part in. I mean . . why bother? On a normal day, the student population is thick with corporate branded minions whose impersonations of Bieber, Perry, Cyrus and the like could fool paparazzi.

If idolatry was a job skill, this generation would be overqualified.

The phenomenon was inevitable I guess, the result of a 100 year creep from Post Industrial society to a devil’s playpen otherwise known as free time. Witness the supplementation to our pastimes over the last century: Baseball to Fantasy League . . photo albums to Facebook . .antique hunting to app hoarding. The paradoxical effect is that we have more and more of less and less.

Celebrity worship is a cottage industry, thanks to myriad reality shows and an internet reach that chimes with payload. In 2014, everybody wants to be famous but nobody wants to end up on TMZ. And therein lies the rub, because what these celebrity worshipers fail to take into account is the price tag known as fame. Being a celebrity, is cool. Being famous? Not so much.

Take, for example, the meteorologist in San Diego. This person- aside from stealing money- is a local celebrity who’s loving life. Their agreeable forecasts get them more free meals than a Food Network cameraman. That’s called celebrity. George Clooney’s got the other 99 problems, because he understands full well the unforgiving nature of a camera phone should his gratuity fall short of a waiter’s expectations. That’s called fame.

Imitation has been flattering celebrities since Judy Garland belted notes into fire and James Dean’s hair became a customizable recreation, I get that. Hell, I even dabbled in it. My Don Johnson Experiment lasted all of one weekend and cost me a white tuxedo style jacket that I bought from Chess King. I went fashion pimp to gain a girl’s favor, but when it proved futile, I gave up my Vice.

My point is simpler than me. Whereas girls used to dream big on the shoulders of Grace Kelly in hopes of finding Mr. Right and boys swiveled their hips like Elvis to entertain their jukebox date, today’s kids aren’t renting celebrity worship. They want to buy. And they’re not dissuaded in the least by the abundance of cautionary tales available to them; from Real World alums to Kate Gosselin.

Gosselin was a local celebrity in my home town not so long ago. She was a likable girl from Philly until her designs changed and her looks followed and her persona morphed into that of an indefatigable vamp. She had celebrity but she wanted fame. Most people believe Kate to be a ruthless bitch, but I’m not most people. I just think her want of the wrong thing blinded her to all the right things.

It all comes down to one simple truth. Dressing like a celebrity is a cheap date experience. But that whole fame thing is a royal pain in the ass.


19 thoughts on “Being careful with what you’re wishing for

  1. Hi Cayman,
    Always so happy to see your words come across the WP reader. 🙂

    You’ve scratched the exterior on a sub-surface pandemic. I used to soak in the People, the red carpet pre-shows and wondered the whole time, “What am I buying into?!?!”
    Since then, I’ve become a bit ‘purist’ in tv watching because I don’t want to buy into the celebrity any longer. No reality TV, haven’t read a People magazine in years (I used to read them daily) BUT, I’m not completely removed either. I watch sports–baseball, football, golf, cross-fit, MMA…yep, there’s plenty of subject matter there to take me right out of my purist mindset. I don’t have the right answer here, but at least I know my son will never go to school looking like Justin Beiber 😉

    • Mama- Oh, my claws could sink themselves into a nice healthy cut as far as the fascination with celebrity and its requisite fame is concerned. It’s just that, I was talking about these Celebrity Dress Up Days…I just find them curious and a wee bit disconcerting.
      Not to name drop, but it’s kinda where the inspiration for this blog post came from. . . I interviewed Kelly McGillis several years ago. She talked about the work being the thing. The fame, the box office numbers, the name on the marquee. . they’re fleeting. The work is the only constant, it’s what you love and it’s what you strive for when all the other things have lost their luster. I always remembered that.
      Justin Bieber is a perfect example of how fame eats a person from the inside out. He’s quite the talented musician, with the ability to play several musical instruments really, really well. But fame has created this caricature and he is all in. There’s big money to be had with it, so I don’t blame the kid for it. But man, there’s also a price.

      • First of all–so cool that you interviewed Kelly McGillis 🙂
        Secondly, I feel bad for celebs like JB. It’s unfortunate that their real talent gets lost in the flurry…and they are swallowed up right a long with it.
        You have lead an interesting life, Cayman. You always leave me wanting to learn more.

        • I was writing up high school sports when the editor of a local paper called to ask if I would be interested in interviewing Kelly McGillis. The story had a very quick turnaround and it only required three to five hundred words centered around her appearance in a local theater production. I had just interviewed a World War II veteran for his paper a couple weeks earlier and he liked my stuff. I jumped at the chance to interview McGillis. It was my first experience with publicists. He was a very pleasant older gentleman who gave me a quick run through on what was allowable and what was off limits. It was a fifteen minute interview with McGillis in which she was guarded and quick to correct me when I got too caught up on talking about working with Tom Cruise or being a box office main stay. She was right to correct me, and she taught me some things in doing so. I find her to be a very insightful individual and was glad for the lessons.

          As for you, Mama, I’m glad you read this blog. I enjoy your writing and your positive nature. My solitary ways have been confused with churlishness, so it’s always nice to know that positive people like me. My girl doesn’t count since she’s biased.


  2. Awesome post with many great lines … such as – today’s kids aren’t renting celebrity worship. They want to buy …. but this is my fav – If idolatry was a job skill, this generation would be overqualified … thanks for sharing your interesting take on Kate G. Oh the prize for wanting more.

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