In our fame-obsessed society, where mothers push toddlers into tiaras, and fathers thrust sons onto sports teams of every kind, is it okay to be content with NOT being famous? To be happy with NOT being the starting quarterback or the beauty pageant queen? Is it acceptable to admit to enjoying life in the realm of Runner-Ups?
Is Celebrity the Most Important Thing to Us as a Society?
After spending half my life in Hollywood and summoning the guts to “put myself out there” and “fake it till I make it,” I finally realized something: I don’t want to be famous. I used to think I did because famous people are the ones who get all the attention. And I like attention. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve noticed that a lot of those famous people aren’t very happy. I’m not always happy, either. But I am content. And contentment has a lot going for it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the work of being an artist. I love acting and have relished and grown during every role I’ve ever played, whether it be in the church basement of a community theatre production or on the sound stage of a hit TV sitcom. In fact, it’s because I do love the actual process of acting and writing that I began questioning my need to be famous. Was this actually my desire or was this what society pushes persons to expect from themselves?
I used to think I was a victim of that old cliché: fear of success. Whenever I would book a role on a television show or find one of my blog posts going viral, I’d back away, intuiting that to remain on that pace was too overwhelming. And you know what? My intuition was right. Being a constant success, a perpetual hit-maker is too stressful to maintain. I won’t even get into the number of celebrities we’ve seen fall from grace or witnessed the media literally rip to shreds. Drug, eating, alcohol, sex abuse. It’s little wonder. We watch our celebrities rise, but we relish their fall (brought to you on reality TV everywhere). Make no mistake, fame — the cost to achieve it and the price to maintain it — is a sacrifice.
Janis Joplin knew the loneliness and discontent of fame: “On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; then I go home alone.”
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the dichotomy of fame: a performer needs it, yet wants to be free of it. Even at my lowly part-time performer status, I recognize it. As an old boss of mine (a former television star) once said, “Acting is cocaine.” The more attention/success/fame a person has, the more he wants. This isn’t ego; this is human nature.
Except, guess what? I’ve realized that I’m happier when I’m not on the hamster wheel of (as Charles Dickens might write) “More fame, please, sir?” So when I grumble that my career never “took off” like I had hoped, that I am a mere nobody who has happened to act on a few TV shows, I have to face the truth. The truth that, in fact, maybe I’m exactly where I want to be. Content.