Alledgedly there’s fifteen minutes of grim inevitability, fame-wise. I don’t know to what extent that still applies. I’m pretty sure the number of people vying, the number of different media, and the number of different niches to be famous in are multiplied a thousand-fold since Andy Warhol was changing his wig daily for authenticity.
I’m not quite sure how to define fame. And I’m not quite sure how to predict the future. I know that part of me wants to be famous, if only so I can reach out to people, but I doubt I could really take the sort of scouring that huge fame induces. I’m too weird and too broken to fit into the media’s conception of a celebrity. I suspect most of the best people are. But then, maybe all the celebrities are.
Fame strikes me as a representation of someone, presumably a real person, into something else, a character for the public amusement. Celebrity is a projection coming from both directions. What the public is percieved to want, shone onto how an individual wants to be seen, mediated by various agents of control, from agents to publishers, each with their own product to sell.
If that’s what you’re looking for, there’s probably some way of going for it, but the odds are you won’t be huge. You’re wonderful, but you aren’t Orson Welles (if Orson Welles is reading this, then I’m worried about the dead rising, which changes all of the rules…I’m also sorry for doubting you, Orson).
(I also can’t believe that Orson Welles is my example of the archetypal grandly famous person…I would’ve thought my general example would be someone more vapid, less valid, but apparently not).
Anyway, my point is that only so many people are going to be really famously famous, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, realistically. You can be famous on your own terms. Everyone is famous amongst the people who love them. You should probably focus on that, because you’ll have more control over that, and it’ll last more than fifteen minutes, and it matters more than reaching a million people who will essentially only judge you on the way you are represented.
Celebrity has to be shallow, because it has to fit onto newspaper, and shout from the covers of magazines. There are other kinds of fame, people who have a reach and get to talk about the big things, but even then, there’s an unreality to it. I find it weird as hell to remember that George Monbiot is actually a person, and not just a factory for depressing statistics.
But of course he is, recently meeting an old friend of his who was absolutely distraught about his switching of position on the Nuclear power debate bought that home.
Fame creates connections to people you don’t know, but I think you’ll always have more impact on those close to you. So I’d focus on that.
And if you get famous? Do it right.
Illustration by Jaime