How to Be Famous

In light of Amy Winehouse’s death, I got to thinking about fame and what a trap it can be for some people.

Recent studies have found that an alarming number of kids think being famous is a career goal.  They don’t want to achieve anything, they don’t want to work for it. They only want to be discovered.  Entitlement, anyone?

Fame changes things.  When you become famous, everything you do is put under a microscope.  That may sound great to you when you’re singing into a hairbrush in front of the bathroom mirror, but is it?  Do you really want people all over the world knowing and judging everything you do?  When you need privacy, how happy will you be knowing you can’t get it anymore unless you become a virtual hermit?

As the meme says, haters gonna hate, but you can mitigate some of the damage with the following suggestions.

Have  a goal besides being famous

You’re much less likely to implode when you become famous if the fame itself is not the desire.  Actors, musicians, writers and artists who are truly dedicated to their work will do it regardless of the attention.  Yes, these endeavors require an audience to be fully appreciated, but it doesn’t have to be a worldwide one.   If your fame ebbs, you can still go on doing what you’re doing.

Stay off the junk

 Famous and creative people seem to use a lot of drugs, don’t they?  They drink, they party and they die.  How embarrassing.

Stephen King once said being a writer didn’t make him drink.  Being a drunk made him drink.  Addictive personalities may be drawn to fame because of the positive reinforcement they get.  But as we’ve seen in the past, public opinion can turn faster than an ice skater who’s about to slam into the boards.

Do you want to be famous like this?

Quick, someone, get a marker!

Or like this?


MUCH more attractive, doncha think?

Behave yourself

If you want attention, fine.  But some people think that any attention is better than nothing.  So you get the bad boys, the crazy girls, the shows like Bridezilla (I must confess, until I had to downgrade my satellite TV, this was a guilty pleasure).

While substance abuse can make people act like they’re nuts—and so can being nuts—many celebrities behave badly because they feel entitled.  Naomi Campbell used to be famous for being a supermodel.  Then she became known for things like throwing phones at people, which ultimately got her arrested and convicted of assault.

Even if you’re richer than God, have some respect for others’ property and feelings.  If you don’t, please don’t ask me to feel sorry for you or even care.

If you’re in over your head, get some damn help

 I’m sure when Matilda Ledger gets a little older, her main question regarding the accidental overdose death of her father, Heath Ledger, will be “Why, Daddy?”  Breaks your heart.

Mel Gibson, Britney Spears…the list goes on.  Some of them have gotten a bit of support from family or friends, but many more are no longer with us because they sunk so low.  You can blame the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll machine for part of it, but not all.  No one can help you until you are ready for it.  If you are, just do it.  Thanks to the late Betty Ford, rehab is no shame anymore.

Fame brings a lot of pressure with it. You must produce and you must stay in the public eye to sell your work.  To an extent, you’re a commodity, not an artist.  Ledger allegedly had trouble with that concept.  Again, the goal should not be the fame.  Even if it’s not, it’s a hard thing to wrap your head around.

Keep your mouth shut

Anything you put on the Internet stays there forever.  If you’re famous, it’s like plutonium.  It will never go away.  So don’t tell anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to know.

Yes, you can be misquoted and yes, magazines like the Enquirer sold tons of copies by making stuff up.   Remember, it’s like high school.  If a headline blasts that you’re pregnant by your co-star, you can laugh and say “Yeah? Well we’ll see in nine months if that’s true or not,”  (If you are, you better come clean.)

As for a lack of privacy, it does come with the territory.  But it’s attainable.  Keep personal things to yourself, so they remain yours

Stay grounded

Unless you’re a horrible attention-whore fame monkey, you’ll probably want to keep your kids and your family out of the public eye as much as you can.  Kids are great for grounding you because nothing makes you feel like less of an Oscar-winning A-lister than getting puked on at three in the morning.  Skip the live-in nanny if you can, and do most of it yourself.

The people who knew you before you were famous can do the same.   Just try to stay away from the freeloaders, and remember why you were friends with your peeps in the first place.  It’s hard because your schedule will suck, but make the effort.

If all else fails, get a dog.


Plan for the day it all will end

Not many flash-in-the-pan celebrities from twenty or thirty years ago are remembered now.  Some of them go on reality shows to make a little money and keep the thing going.  Guess what?  It’s not that important.

Think of it this way:  your star has faded, and now you have a chance to reinvent yourself.  If you’ve been careful with your money, you can do anything you want now.  Pressure’s off.

Do it right, like Mayim Bialik, and you can have your Ph.D in neuroscience, a family and maybe even another go.



11 thoughts on “How to Be Famous

  1. I’m really proud of that actress from “Blossom.” I remember many moons ago, I saw her on I think Access Hollywood plotting her comeback, and I remember thinking, “Man, I wish in her case that scenario could be different. But they will never hire her, again, due to typecasting.” Some time later, I caught an episode of “The Big Bang,” and went into shock. Then I looked for additional info, and found out she was a UCLA grad, and wow ! I mean, THAT’S WHY they hired her. Because once you leave Hollywood, when you come back, you come back cold. As though you were never there to begin with. You pretty much have to be overqualified and have a great credit record and a burgeoning second career, or no agent will even consider repping you. And she was smart enough to understand that AS A CHILD. I was really proud of her and admired her for what she accomplished. She could do without it, but the acting gig simply pays better, and having children is expensive. “AND” somebody told me she wrote a children’s book about child psychology. Man, this chick has integrity. Sorry I never crossed paths with her, but I guess she was in school all that time.

    • Yes, she’s great. And if a kid who is in the biz has something else they want to do, or they’re encouraged to be interested in a ton of stuff other than being a STAR! then they have a better chance at making it out alive. Because Hollywood eats kids for lunch.

  2. I am so sad I am just now reading this poaste because it is both funny and true. A celebrity I am really proud of is Emma Watson. She’s smart and has really handled herself well.

    Btw I love the lindsay and Jake *drool* pictures

    • I like Emma a lot. I’m glad she’s going back to college. It will do her good. She’s really smart and should plan for a future without acting, because she may change her mind about it later, as young as she is.

      Heh heh, I knew you would like the Jake one!

  3. Jim you keep using “Many moons ago” I will beat you senseless with a batman pillow……

    I was a moderator long ago on a DVD forum. There was this one member who was a huge fan of Micheal Bay and his only goal in life was to become famous and have sex with every woman he could find and do drugs… all the time. That was it, poor guy felt like a failure because he was not living up to his dream. It was a real shame and the big thing was he had no clue as to why none of the rest of us wanted what he wanted.

    The last thing I want to be is famous.

  4. I think your viewpoint that kids expect entitlements and refuse to work for anything is a bit overly cynical. It’s unfortunately true that people like that do exist. But for the most part, Generation Y is very ambitious (sometimes even more than their parents) and want to be influential. I think that’s where most desires of fame come from. A life of collecting paychecks while minding one’s own business is sometimes not enough to make a person satisfied. The linked USA Today article validates all those ideas.

    Today’s young adults are not as naive as the elders suggest. They understand that with a present poor economy, inflating money and the widening gap between rich and poor, it’s ultra important to be financially secure as early as possible. Fame is often equated as a sign of success and set-for-life fortune. So it’s only natural for it to be desired. But many recognize that fame isn’t always necessary to achieve that. Some of the interviewed subjects in the USA Today article claim that simply being distinctive and not necessarily famous is a good realistic goal. One of them expressed a wish to become a college professor so they can shape and influence a lot of people. Not to mention the paychecks are probably pretty nice too.

    I might only be speaking for myself here, but it often seems that expectations for my age group are at a very high bar. Nearly every accomplishment is met with a “That’s good, but why can’t you do better?” response. It might serve as a good motivation mantra to some. But for others such as myself, it’s disheartening, adds to the frustration of inability to please and makes the goal line (if it’s even clear) seem unreachable.

    Your advice about always considering the future is very solid truth. I’ve read too many stories about wealthy pro athletes and actors who no longer have anything to show for it after retirement to understand why more do not learn from their mistakes.

    • Ian, I should have clarified, and thank you for pointing it out, that it seems to be mostly the kids who are dazzled by fame that feel that way. They simply don’t see all the hard work that goes into it. Kids who get a chance to actually do it learn that very quickly, and for those whose ambition is stronger than their dismay, they will work their little asses off to reach their goals. I know a lot of young figure skaters who do so.

      The point I was mostly trying to make is, if you do make it to the top, don’t forget that you’re not a god, but still human and your foibles are now for mass consumption. That’s a very hard lesson for a lot of young celebrities to learn. I know Hollywood eats them for lunch, which doesn’t make it any easier. It’s a rude awakening to realize what you thought of as art is actually a product to someone else. Writers have to remember this, because most of us aren’t doing this for our health. :P We want to be published, we want to be paid, and we want our work to get out there. But to publishers, it’s a product. If it doesn’t sell, it’s no different than any other product–it WILL get dumped.

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