A lot of people want to be famous. The list includes movie stars, members of music groups, TV personalities, talented sports figures, race car drivers, state, national, and international politicians — and mass murderers.
At one time, I considered wanting to become famous. But I remember how Princess Diana died a violent death while being chased through a Paris tunnel at high speed by paparazzi. I’ve observed how fame often means a loss of privacy. Fame means you have to think about protecting your children from unwanted attention and possible kidnapping. Fame doesn’t bring you a good marriage or well-adjusted children.
Being famous, though, can be very profitable. It can earn many millions of dollars. Some people are famous for being famous, like the Kardashians. They make money by selling their name and their beauty.
A lot of people want to be around famous people. In our age of digital phones, getting a photo standing next to a famous person is a prize to show friends. Such contact increases ones’ status and perhaps envy in the viewer. It’s as if fame is contagious, and can infect those around the famous with their qualities.
Being or becoming famous represents power. Gaining power is both addictive and intoxicating. It makes one feel special and probably superior to others who are not as successful.
Once someone has gained fame, like all power, it’s hard to give up. That’s why government leaders who lose elections can strongly deny they lost, while others miss the attention that comes with no longer being famous. It’s a big letdown. People no longer try to gain their attention.
According to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita in his book “The Dictator’s Handbook”, the goal of politicians is to get into power and then to keep it. Having and keeping power serves to have and keep your fame.
Unfortunately, loss of fame comes to many, especially women who are valued for their beauty. As we age, beauty diminishes, with the loss of beauty comes a loss of attention. Many famous people go to plastic surgeons to get Botox shots, hair implants, and facelifts to fend off the reality of getting older. Others hire personal trainers to help them stay fit and young-looking. It’s interesting that actress Jamie Lee Curtis, age 64, believes that the word “anti-aging” has to be struck. She says she is “pro-aging”.
Products for older people produce billions of dollars for those who promise ageless beauty. Unfortunately, time takes its toll on us all. Death awaits all of us, and with our passing, so too, does our awareness of fame. How many famous people die early? Even if statues and monuments are created to memorialize the famous, pigeons still rest on the statues’ heads, leaving their excrement behind.
Being famous means you get to live on big estates in enormous mansions. The famous can hire professional gardeners, housekeepers, cooks, and valets. Attorneys are at your beck-and-call. You get to drive expensive cars that turn heads as you drive by.
You can own houses all over the world. People will flock to those houses to get their photos taken in front of the gates. I know it was a special treat to have someone take my family and me on a boat to see Bill Gates’ house on Lake Washington. What I noticed was two security guards keeping watch as we cruised by. Fame brings a greater need for security.
The central question, though, is whether fame brings you more happiness. A study of the super wealthy, and therefore, the super famous, found when asked, what would make these uber-rich happy, their answer was 30% more money!
So, is a desire for fame really that important? The answer I came to is “no”. Mary Pipher PhD, in her book “Reviving Ophelia” supplies a quote that I have posted by my computer: “Happiness is largely a matter of contrasts.”
We become unhappy when we unwisely compare ourselves to the lives of others whom we feel are better off than we are. We are happy when we contrast what we have now with what was painful in the past.
Another quote by Pipher is: “Happiness comes not from using people, but from being useful.” Joy and satisfaction come from serving others.
Consider these quotes and my musings about fame. Do you really want to be famous, or do you want to be happy? You can have both, but it’s a lot harder to attain. It’s usually one or the other.