Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Spotlight

Being a celebrity means you’re giving permission for people to look at you, listen to you, pay attention to you.

Stop what you’re doing right now! I’m over here!

If the celebrity is famous just for being famous, then it’s not an equitable relationship; it’s just annoying or intrusive. But if the celebrity is famous because of their talent, then we’ll happily and willingly turn ourselves into a loyal audience. We’ll buy the CD, see the movie, watch the TV show every week, go to the concert, and join the fan club. Usually, it’s a fair trade. The celebrity’s talent enriches our lives and, in return, we make them rich.

But, as Alec Baldwin found out, it’s dangerous living in the spotlight.

There’s no “Off” switch.

In the middle of a contentious divorce battle with his ex-wife Kim Bassinger, things took a turn for the worse when a tape of Alec calling his 12-year-old daughter a “rude, thoughtless little pig” was released to the public. Personally, I think both sides look bad here. Alec was a cruel, obnoxious lout, and Kim was a mean, vindictive shrew for giving the tape of Alec’s rant to the news media and turning their daughter’s humiliation into a sideshow. This should have stayed private but, of course, a celebrity doesn’t have a private life. That option was given away a long time ago.

The spotlight follows the celebrity everywhere now.

So, if the celebrity is smart, they will hire bodyguards. They will isolate themselves by living in luxurious golden cages far, far away from their adoring fans. And they’ll hope that the pornographic video they made years ago when they were young, stupid, and blessedly anonymous with those two drunk cheerleaders doesn’t show up on YouTube.

What happened to that schmuck Alec Baldwin wasn’t unusual. It was just his turn. Hey, that’s showbiz.