Sunday, January 27, 2008

Whether or not the fame is worth it

I've always fundamentally believed that almost everyone, if given the option, would want to be famous. Millions of people crave fame (along with money and power) but few really give a thought about whether or not it's worth it.

This new generation of dead, dying and screwed up young stars are my generational peers. I turned on the TV one morning to CNN to check the scores in the only sport that really matters (politics) and found, along with returns from NH (I think), video footage of Britney Spears being taken out of her house in an ambulance.

That was right around the time they found Brad Renfro dead, who was discovered at ten, and did a brilliant job as the troubled pre-teen Mark Sway in the Client when he was only 11. He eventually messed up his life with drinking and drugs. Like Heath Ledger, they still don't know what killed him.

Heath Ledger's death a week later has been reported far more, likely because of his role in Brokeback Mountain, his former relationship with Michelle Williams, and the tragedy of him leaving a two-year old daughter with no father.

What I keep thinking about is how Heath almost went broke after 10 Things I Hate About You and nearly had to throw in the towel and go back to Australia. (I read that in some teen magazine in the 90s.) It's dangerous to play the what-if game, because if he had, he wouldn't have Matilda, but maybe he'd still be alive.

I am sure there are some stars who'd rather be famous for a short time and then die suddenly and tragically, but how can it be worth it? Britney may have smooched Madonna on national television, but she doesn't have access to her own children because of her hijinks. Is it at all clear that she'll live to a ripe old age, surrounded by family and friends? Or will she go bankrupt, be hated by her children and, God forbid, be the next tragic, inexplicable and probably pharmaceutical death?

There are some celebrities who live normal lives, and even some child stars who don't mess up their lives completely. But when it all boils down to it, who would risk that kind of life and death for themselves or for their children simply to be the next poor sap pursued by paparazzi?

Perhaps that famous patriot ought to have said "give me anonymity or give me death."


At 8:23 p.m., Anonymous J! said...

It's all relative though. We both live semi-public lives, but also ensure a degree of anonymity. The same is true for real celebs as well. Some can find a balance between the public and the private. Others private lives become their public lives. That is where the problems arise.


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