So, being famous consumes many of us, to some extent. Some, more deeply than others. Adrian Grenier (He plays Vince on HBO’s Entourage) has a documentary film, in which he follows a teenager who happens to be a member of the Paparazzi. At first, the young man is simply enamored by being a Paparazzo. He’s not really concerned with the consequences, or the impedance on the celebrities lives. that should not surprise you, as he was only 13. Over the course of the film, there are clear changes in both Grenier and the young man. Some good, some not so good. One of the no so good changes are in the young man, and his craving for fame.
Grenier interviews various people, stars, authors and researchers for the film. However, during the filming of the young man, he appears in front of the camera, a good deal. This draws attention. Attention, I don’t think Grenier originally intended for. This attention leads to interviews for the young man, and implicitly, “fame”. To the point that the young man is offered a reality show. In the end, all is made right. If you watch the film, you’ll see. That’s not my focus.
I’d like to focus on a new ideas, Parasocial Interpersonal Relationships (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasocial_interaction). An author, in the film (who actually lead Grenier to see the errors of his ways) discussed to what extent people want to be acknowledged. He also stated that when living in small tribes, this was not an issue, since every one knew everyone. So, in other words, everyone was famous. However, now, with both the size of our societies (for the most part) and the technologies available (Facebook, Twitter, etc), many people feel “unimportant”.
In the film, Matt Damon, during an interview, spoke on how often people ask him how it feels to be famous. He thought it was odd. Odd that people saw fame as the thing itself… “What about the making movies?”, he rhetorically asked the camera. Another author, during an interview, reported something fairly similar. He spoke on a survey that was given to high school students. In this survey, the students were given a list of possible jobs, including CEO of fortune 500 firm, a Senator, an a handful of other powerful positions. One of the job on the list was the assistant to a star. To be clear, not a star, but the assistant to the star. 42% of the students choose the assistant job.
Both Damon and the survey result speak to the root problem. Understanding the difference between a means and an end. Fame itself, or even wanting it, is not an evil. Similar to financial wealth, having it for its own sake is folly. However, in the right hands, these are powerful tools. Tools that can used to create and provide greater things for your immediate (and extended) society. Things like schools, clean water, vaccines. Just as UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors…