Just as income inequality continues to be a growing concern in the United States, I wanted to discuss a problem that parallels it in many ways.
In the 1920s, when there were only 106 million Americans (and only about a dozen people here illegally), there were an estimated 500 famous people. Right now there are over 316 million people in the US (500 million if you count those here illegally) and about 500 of them are famous. If you are reading this in 2020 it is estimated that the number of people in the US, both legally and illegally, will be well over a billion and there will still only be about 500 famous people.
You see the problem?
Celebrity is not being distributed fairly.
And don’t try to tell me that the recent influx of reality television stars count as celebrities. They are nothing more than the death throes of a crumbling culture. I’m talking about real celebrity. The kind of notoriety that has the news of your latest fling sitting between headlines concerning the Ukraine and the latest killer hurricane.
(Speaking of the death throes of our culture, how long do you suppose it will be until hurricane names will be sponsored? “Hurricane Pepsi kills a hundred. While rescue workers scramble to reach those in need I bet there’s nothing that would taste better to those trapped in rubble than a cold refreshing Pepsi!”)
And while there appears to be only 500 seats at that particular table, more and more of those seats are being sat in by the talentless sons and daughters of other seat-sitters. Not only is this not healthy but it’s not fair.
Now before you think this observation is coming from a selfish place, let me be the first to say that I don’t believe I should be a celebrity. I don’t say this with mock-humility. I say it because I would become the world’s biggest asshole if I got even a whiff of celebrity.
How do I know this?
Because whenever a band is nice enough to learn the German words to 99 Red Balloons, I can’t help but imagine Adolf Hitler as soon as they start singing them. I know that imagining Hitler standing on a balcony in front of a huge grainy black and white throng of people rocking out to 99 Luftballons is wrong but I can’t help it. Every time it’s the same reaction.
So I know I’m not worthy of celebrity. The last thing the world needs is someone sitting on a couch in front of the latest vanilla talk show host and coming out with that.
But there are artists, actors, singers and writers all over the place that deserve a little taste of fame. Not a giant helping but enough to keep them going. We can’t continue to have it be where if you’re a creative type you’re either dogshit or a god. Nobody is either. Everyone is pretty close to the middle and perpetuating the myth that the famous are somehow that much better than the rest of us is just ridiculous.
I bet when I said earlier that it wasn’t healthy, you nodded your head in complete agreement but then rolled your eyes when I said it wasn’t fair. There is something about fairness that is an argument killer. Fairness is a turn-off. A buzzkill.
Because it’s so obvious that in this life nothing is fair. To try and go to the fairness well to prop up an argument is a sure sign that you are on the losing end of logic. But I say loud and proud, “Fuck that!” Even if life isn’t fair there is no reason to revel in it. Why can’t every single little town have a slightly-famous artist? A sort-of well-known band? Nobody has to fawn all over them but a little respect would be nice.
Get off your ass and buy a painting. Go to a show. See an obscure film. And what’s more, let the creator know you liked it. That you appreciated it. That it meant something to you that they went to the trouble of producing it.
Get in the game, you lazy fuck.
Everyone has that one friend you treasure because they’re always coming up with some cool new song or book… be that person.
Don’t meekly accept the 500 lame celebrities that we’ve been allocated. Go out and make some new ones and share them with those close to you.
It’s only fair.
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