Why do people go nuts over famous people even though they are just like un-famous ones?January 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Posted in The Nature of Fame | 3 Comments
Today’s question was sent to me from a reader with the fun and pretty name of Latoya. Latoya is from Jamaica.
Latoya: Without you having told him that you are from Jamaica, Mr. Answers would have known anyway that you were from some country that definitely wasn’t America. Because in America there are actually certain towns where you can be arrested for suggesting that famous people are … how did you so quaintly put it? … “just like” other, non-famous people.
Oh, to laugh! The very idea! Thank your lucky stars, Latoya, that you didn’t mutter such blasphemous nonsense in Hollywood, California, U.S.A. In that most illustrious place, expressing aloud the idea that famous people are just like non-famous people—if you do it in public, where three or more people could reasonably be expected to have heard you say it—is grounds for the LAPD to shoot you.
Did news of the Rodney King incident make it to Jamaica? If so, then you are aware of what happens to people in Los Angeles who suggest that famous people are like non-famous ones. Safe to say that Mr. King will never again wonder aloud in public about why he shouldn’t be a guest on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”
The reason, Latoya, that famous people are profoundly different from non-famous people is because no one has ever heard of non-famous people. What does that tell you? That’s right: that non-famous people never do anything anyone really cares about. And why is that? Who really knows? Perhaps the un-famous lack imagination. Perhaps they don’t own a TV, and so have no idea how society is properly ordered. Maybe they’re just lazy. So often people are simply too lazy to get up, do their hair right, and go get their own network show.
The point is, Laytoya, that un-famous people are no more like famous people than zombies are like gold-medal winning Olympic athletes. Gold-winning Olympic athletes have awesome bodies and look fantastic on cereal boxes and other consumer goods. Zombies can’t even flip their hair without their whole head flying off. There’s just no comparison.
So the next time you find yourself wondering why non-famous people “go nuts” over famous people, Latoya, remind yourself that you’re not an American. And though that’s certainly no fault of your own, I’m afraid it does mean that, when it comes to questions of fame and human worth generally, you lack the perspective to understand so much of what makes America the caliber of country it is today. How unfortunate for you.
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