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Feeling Brad’s Pain April 8, 2009

Posted by dailyegg in 1.
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Let’s stop and think for a moment about celebrity. The word itself means, of course, a celebrated person. Widely known, often referred to, etc, etc. As we all know perfectly well you don’t necessarily have to do anything particularly cool or awesome to become celebrated, to become . . . you know, the F-word. The way things work these days you can become famous just like miss you-know-who—famous just for being famous.

Recently I was at a dinner party where a highly respected and well-known film editor made the assertion that what we all—i.e., everybody who ever was, and everyone who ever will be—secretly wants to be famous. “It’s the foremost desire,” he said.  He smiled. “Well. . . True, isn’t it?”  There were surprisingly few challenges, none serious. Essentially, we all agreed. So why do we all want to become famous, then? Narcissism? Ego? Programming? Extended high-level mating privileges?      

        Publicity agents, managers, the glossy rags, Hollywood, the entertainment industry in general. I think we all have a pretty good idea of how the fame game works these days. And we—us—you know, ordinary nonfamous folk: we seem to like it. We consume all the mags we say we deplore, those gulity-pleasure reads everyone balks at but can’t put down. Jen Anniston. John Mayer.

       We browse. We yawn. We buy. Where would the famous be without us?

Hardcore fame—you know what I mean—by all the accounts of those who have acquired it, is not something to be envied, especially. This could be fakery, false modesty, but I don’t think it is. Just ask Sean Penn or . . . Bob Dylan (good luck). Too much fame is a trap, they say. Basically, it sucks. in ways the nonfamous can never understand. Because you become engulfed in it. Swallowed up whole. Essentially, there is no more You: it’s all image. To the point that it destroys much of what nonfamous people take for granted. And what nonfamous people don’t realize is that things like anonymity can actually be precious. Personal liberty, freedom to roam unhindered and undisguised. The ability to go outside into the world without a bodyguard. Clad in our limos, we forget how much fun that can be.
        We hear these things and we think, yeah, right. We think: I’d rather ride in a limo anyway. Who needs to walk? I’d rather arrive at an airport with thousands of fans around screaming my name than arriving at the airport, um, totally alone, my suitcase squeaking behind me.
       But for those who have become really big—you know what I mean, Brad and Angela big—they say that fame is like living in a prison.
          “Now you see what my life is really like,” Brad said, recently.
          You can’t sit at a cafe and look out the window as you blow the steam off your coffee like you used to. You can’t just go off to some restaurant or club without making all sorts of special arrangements and contingency plans. You can’t walk down the street, even, without becoming afraid for you personal safety. You can’t leave your house or your motel room without being mobbed, sometimes attacked.
People who are not famous way underestimate the scary side of fame. You may even be stalked by some psycho who wants to kill you because he or she thinks he loves you. Remember John Lennon? No one who isn’t famous can imagine what it is really like because it’s not like anything those without fame have ever experienced before. So you literally can not imagine it.
         So, what’s the deal here? If that’s the case, why would anyone want to be famous? Are you psycho? Or just so radically insecure that you desire the love of a group of people you don’t even know?
      Hey you, all you millions out there—I want your love!
      Isn’t that, essentially, insane?

       In America we tend to believe that fame confers legitimacy upon a person. Becoming famous somehow gives your identity the crowning glory of unimpeachable validity. It’s sort of nuts, really. But on the other hand, it’s perfectly logical. Like the way we tend to believe purchasing something fancy somehow makes you more noble, built from finer stuff. Crazy, says one half of your brain. You are officially a winner, says the other half. No more crushing bouts of self-loathing to endure because, hey, dude, you’re famous, okay? You rock.
         We tend to think that if we were famous we wouldn’t have to be involved in all those disappointingly human weaknesses anymore. No more aggravating indignities. No more waiting in line at the bank. No more . . . whatever. Just pure respect, 24/7. All suffering will, of course, come to an end. Pleasure will rage on and on. As much as we like. Forever!
         We tend to think that if we had fame then finding love would be a snap. Badabing. Hey you—that’s right—little miss cheekbones: shut up and get naked. Now. Before I lose interest.
       Hot- and cold-running sex parties! Yeehooo!

        Actually, we know this isn’t true, but for some reason we desperately want to believe in it. We desperately want to believe our celebrities are living amazing, totally enviable, totally fulfilled lives.
         We desire fame, it seems, in order to be promoted upward in our own minds, to be cast into the exalted Elysian Fields of the Good Life. Where we are perpetually desirable and admired, envied and wooed, applauded and paraded around sporting fancy clothes and hiding from cameras in luxury homes. We don’t ever really see celebrities work. They just do themselves, and make a fortune. How hard could that really be?
         But it’s not real, and we know it’s not real. We know that for instance, that celebrities also get acne and have mood swings and temper tantrums and  gain weight and get drunk and arrested and go to rehab and have fights with their partners and parents and get pissed and do stupid things and suffer embarrassments and have falling-outs and get demoted and develop substance-abuse problems and lose their careers and wind up helpless hopeless and broke and try to relaunch and probably fail and get more screwed up and then, like everybody else who ever lived, they die too. Or become Scientologists.
         But hey, there’s Matt on the beach in a towel. And he’s got a sunburn and . . . Is that Gizelle biting his nipple?
        We probably believe we want all these things because the media spends so much time convincing us we do, telling us stories about these folks—do we even really need names anymore?— and showing us pictures of these things and implying it is these things that we really all want because because because because because—because of all of the wonderful things that he does—that the present reality of the good life—the celebrity life—seems to be indisputably arrayed before our very eyes. We tend to think that a celebrity life is devoid of boredom, pain, suffering, nausea, anxiety, fear, sexlessness . . . That you just swing along merrily from party to party, spending-spree to spending-spree, laughing your head off while everyone in the world wishes they were you (which means, I guess, you’d become relieved of the burden of thinking maybe you suck).
       But how fucking kookamonga is that?
       What are we, 9 years old?

       But maybe there’s more to this being-famous desire than just celebrity.
       Okay, let’s talk, then, about . . . the power thing. The personal and social power thing that extends one’s identity into the imaginations of millions. Millions of morons maybe, but who cares, right? Millions are millions.
       Power: we look at People and Us and InTouch and we see all the power we don’t have but wish we did.
       Is that what makes us feel guilty?
       Or is that the part that gives us pleasure?
       Granted, social power is pretty damn seductive. Who doesn’t like being well-treated? Who doesn’t like being well-liked?
       Okay, Scrooge aside, we have to ask: do celebrities really have that much power? Isn’t it really the studio moguls and the businessmen behind the scenes that wield the actual power? What really, can Brad Pitt do that you or I can’t?
      In pursuit of this dire and important question, I’ve made a list.

       The top 10 things Brad can (and I can’t) do:
       1) live in many huge homes scattered throughout the world
       2) buy himself tons of shit he doesn’t really need
       3) travel wherever he wants, almost as often as he wants
       4) have his face posted on a giant billboard
       5) walk down the street and get mobbed (or stabbed) by screaming fans
       6) hang out with cool guys like Clooney and Soderbergh (!)
       7) feel confident that he looks great (double !)
       8) feel confident that millions of women would like to, um, engage him in a full body embrace
       9) work at a job where he gets shitloads of respect and seriously good bread
       10) shag Angelina

       Alright, so—we’re off to a good start here. Brad’s got some serious props in his corner. I hope he’s happy. Cause if those things can’t make him happy then nothing will. Ever.
       Right?

       So what are the top 10 things I can do that Brad can’t do? (make it a short drum roll, please)—

       1) walk down the street without so much as attracting the attention of a bug (haha!)
       2) sit all day long at Starbucks with no one ever dreaming of bothering me for an autograph (just keepin’ it crispy, yo!)
       3) live is a small dingy apartment in Brooklyn (better than Queens!)
       4) get paid shit for doing work no one else wants to (um, not much to say)
       5) never travel or even eat out anymore because of the economy (ditto)
       6) only eat rice and beans cause that’s all I can afford (at least it’s healthy!)
       7) become sick with worry and fear because I have no money (sad face)
       8) struggle to overcome depression and anxiety foisted upon me because of the economy (double sad face)
       9) tap into life experiences Brad never had and illuminate them brilliantly for all posterity (get ready, miss cheekbones)
     10) call Angelina a raging Biotch!—and survive!  (I win!)

      Well, so, um . . . that’s pretty revealing, I believe. But my own personal psychopathology aside, I’d just like to say, All you non-famous people out there, all you unwashed masses, all you celebrity gawkers and wannabes, everyone who has ever drooled onto their pillow while dreaming you were someone else . . . I am here for you, people. I am your defender and your guide. I love you (because I have no idea who you are). But can you feel there is something . . . in the way we live. . . that is missing . . . something important. . .
       But what? 

       Build Me And I Will Come.

       I will heal your pain.

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