The Question of Fame

I don't think I know anyone who doesn't, at some level, want to be famous.

That's maybe not the most accurate way to put it.

I don't think I know anyone who doesn't want access to the kinds of opportunities fame can grant. Of course no one wants (or even sees, necessarily) the downsides: paparazzi, stalkers, widespread hyper-focus on the banal minutiae of your everyday life.

Today Rowan opened her curtains! I saw her ear! I'm selling the photo to the tabloids! I got her to sign my middle finger; I'm never washing it again!

It's difficult to convince myself that I don't want to be famous. I would love to be able to interact with some of the people I admire, to whom I would never otherwise gain access--apart from signing lines at bookstores or conventions. It would be nice to have a "built-in fanbase," instead of having to stumble through the confusing morass of ever-changing social media rules in order to attract likes and upvotes.

But oh lord, the maintenance that I'd have to do. The care I'd have to take. Leaving aside questions of perceived gender, race, ability, sexual preference, and attractiveness (which are all very different spectra of advantage and privilege), being famous would mean no word I ever wrote would go unexamined. There would be a catastrophic loss of privacy.

Would you like to be famous? That's the second question on the New York Times list. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

...Posthumously? I guess? Maybe. That might make it rough on the kid, though. Maybe in another dimension that I could occasionally look in on. That would be ideal. Extra-dimensionally, yes. I'd love to be famous extra-dimensionally. Pop in for a chat with copperbadge, have Yuko and Ananth over for dinner, pick Lin-Manuel Miranda's brain about parenting tricks, then come home to my Fuddy Duddy Dimension and have a nice quiet night with my family with no chance of interruption by anyone but our delightful neighbors.

Part of it is like the Facebook phenomenon. We only see the publicized parts of the lives of famous people. They look so glamorous and happy. They're always smiling, or at least scowling in an attractive and mysterious fashion. We want to be that glamorous and happy! All the time!

Part of it is also that it's a lot easier to get tantalizing glimpses into the lives of famous people than it is to develop familiarity with our neighbors. Getting to know your neighbors means you might actually have to talk to them. Getting to know celebrities just means you have to pick up a magazine while you're buying pretzels and cheese at the grocery store.

But there are plenty of wonderful and thoughtful people around who aren't famous. We have, as I mentioned, amazing neighbors and wonderful friends. There are millions of people who should be famous, if fame is only predicated on talent or skill. I've known hundreds of them.

Fame. It's a kind of currency, I guess, that works like money in a lot of ways. Once you have a certain amount, it keeps acquiring interest no matter what you do. You'll always be famous.

In what way would I want to be famous, if I were? Like anyone else, I'd like my ideas to have wider reach, because of course I think my ideas are amazing.

Maybe part of that is because they haven't had to stand up to a wider audience.

Knatia Parson