These days, it’s not an assumption so much as a statistical fact that young people put fame and fortune at the top of their life “to do” lists. Why do they put fame ahead of stuff like “be the best mechanic I can be” or “raise a good family”? Because it’s a cultural axiom that being famous is awesome, and anything less is for chumps.
But there are a few things people who assume that should know. We’ll go ahead and define fame as the ability to be recognized anywhere by anybody who logs whatever the national daily average of TV and Internet foreplay is. This ability isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and here’s why.
There Is No Privacy
No need to write up a fancy dick-related metaphor to convey what it might be like to be followed by guys with cameras who get paid to tail you until you do something stupid and amplify every little issue to unimaginable heights.
Everybody knows that that’s one of the prices you pay for fame, but knowing it’s going to happen doesn’t make it any less frustrating. And now that everybody has mobile phones with cameras, there’s almost no populated, public areas you can go anymore where you’re guaranteed not to be watched and recorded by somebody looking to peddle footage to TMZ. Most people generally have little empathy for celebrities when it comes to this, and say stuff like well they should just accept it as part of the lifestyle. But think for a moment of all the little, instinctive things you might do while you run a daily errand. Actions you barely think about doing before you do them, and would embarrass the hell out of you if somebody recorded you doing it, like picking your nose, or fixing a wedgie.
Having to actually be ultra-conscientious of not doing those two things alone every time we stepped out the door would be enough to make us want to kill ourselves.
Your New Friends Will Suck, Literally and Figuratively
We all know what it means to ride the gravy train. Riding the gravy train means superficially latching on to somebody by posing as a friend or adviser or confidante because that somebody either already is or will someday definitely be rich, and being inside their inner circle means enjoying the high life free of charge.
Relationships with these kinds of sycophantic, ass-kissing hangers-on are strictly a one-way street, with them always leeching off of you in one way or another and saying whatever they have to say to stay in your good graces. You help them, but they don’t help you. They suck first by waiting for you to pick up the tab after a night at the club, and suck later by giving you inane advice. Nicholas Cage wants you to be in the Ghostrider sequel? You should totally do that, bro! Get that money!
And make no mistake, these people are everywhere money and opportunity are involved. It’s all a part of the fame game. They’ll find you, pat you on the back, laugh at your jokes, dare you to do a speedball, and not even have the common courtesy to drop your comatose body off at the emergency room entrance before speeding away.
It’s Lonely At the Top, For Real
It will seem like a good time at first having all these new friends and beautiful people constantly gravitate towards you, but unless you’re a total dumbass, you’ll eventually see through their bullshit about wanting to be your friend and cut them out of your life. But after you do that, then what?
The knowledge that almost everybody you meet who’s not either as rich or famous as you is probably trying to make your acquaintance based on the fact that they need an in to publish that screenplay they’ve been working on or bankroll that new brand of Vodka they’ve been pitching inevitably makes you paranoid and cautious about making real friends at all.
This is why stars and seemingly genuinely bright, personable people who by all logic should never have to have to go out of their way for company, like Taylor Swift and Rihanna, end up confessing to how lonely their life really is.
Fame Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Fortune
One of the reasons people aspire to be famous is that they assume getting rich goes hand in hand with it. Which is mostly true, but what they don’t understand is that your brain is hardwired to adjust its feelings of happiness once you’ve reached certain goals, like getting rich. It tempers the perpetual “holy shit I’m rich!” euphoria you thought you would have when you weren’t rich so that after a while, being rich is no big deal to you.
What’s worse, being around other rich celebrities with fancy cars and mansions with pools instinctively makes you want to fit in by buying those same fancy cars and mansions with pools. The boost in income and expectations of living an extravagant lifestyle might actually create more financial questions than it solves . For one thing, celebrities on average have short careers marked by short bursts of income, so it would make sense for them to spend modestly given that their source of income is so unpredictable. But the problem is that nobody thinks about that when they get that first huge paycheck. All they’re thinking about is that for the first time in their lives they can buy a Ferrari, or an authentic English butler, so go and do it.
You’ll Have to Change, and You Won’t Like It
Once you get famous, your identity and sense of self get forever skewed by public perception that you can’t hide from (because of the “no privacy” thing we mentioned). At least half of the work of being a celebrity just boils down to either trying like hell to battle that public perception or trying like hell to accommodate it, even if the perception isn’t really who you are. Celebrity-worship isn’t anything new, but what is rather new is the severity of that worship.
Social media networking has replaced traditional communicative institutions like church and neighborhood functions, and have in turn left people feeling more isolated and lonely. The most common way they try to quell that loneliness is the most convenient way available—turning on the TV, or opening up a browser window and redirecting suppressed yearnings like immortality, ageless beauty, and sexual gratification towards celebrities.
What this means if you want to be a celebrity is that the onus is on you to be perfect for masses of lonely people you’ll never meet, and have to deal with the ridiculous shock and disappointment of those masses when they find out that you’re not perfect, or that you’re the opposite of whatever archetype they’ve imagined you as in their head.
And you can’t just say “fuck them,” because your whole celebrity career depends on those people paying attention to you and keeping you bankable. It can turn into a life being lived totally based on other people’s expectations and the ever-shifting winds of cultural favor.