Sunday, February 8, 2015

Warning: Being Famous Can Kill You.

Drug overdose (?)
In thinking about what to blog about next, I had a list of options, but the one I've chosen is not the topic I wish to write about.  However, much like my novel, I have to write it, to have my say, before I can move on to other things.

My heart has been heavy for the past week.  Famed singer Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, may die in the next couple of days, perhaps on February 11, 2015, the three year anniversary of her mother's death. I hope that I am proven wrong about this, so I'm perfectly fine if it turns out to be the case.  And tonight, the Grammy's will be televised, feting the musical accomplishments of some of America's most popular singers. You will note that I did not say, "talented." I believe that term has been lost in translation, nowadays, as it is personalities that become celebrities, not artists, necessarily.
No need to explain this one.

Clive Davis, the mogul who has created mega-stars, throws a Gala, every Grammy night, anticipating his artists' big wins before the Grammys airs on television. In fact, he was partying in the hotel in 2012 year when his top-grossing singer was lying in a bathtub, dying of a drug overdose, upstairs. Alone. A victim of his genius. And treachery.  He is a poster boy for so many other "maestros," handlers (managers, agents, posses, handlers, hangers-on, and sheer leeches) of talent, who breed and nurture fame, like a plant, but then let it go wild and choke itself with too much sycophantic, and ultimately, murderous adoration. Anyone who can shepherd the talent of a young, raw, street-talking songstress into the epitome of American beauty, grace, and talent should also know the heart of his client, know of her troubles, her weaknesses, and nurse her to mental health with the same acuity and adroitness with which he nursed her talent as a singer. And let us not forget those bereaved who eulogized her at her memorial service. They were actually lamenting their own scarlet letter A, not for adulterer, but for being "At Fault," for using the carcass, eating it alive, siphoning away the money and life joys from artists too disturbed by drugs and fame to know what was happening to them.

Adulation is the ultimate orgasm, nowadays. And the problem is that we have chosen fame as a career goal, without the job title that goes with it.  It is enough to "party like a rock star." I wonder if any of our dead stars would want their anonymity back, to be alive and on Earth now.

Natalie Wood - drowned at a drunken
yacht party
Except for historians, no one wants to hear God Bless America sung by Kate Smith. Now, it is Houston's rousing, soul-filled, heart-stirring Star Spangled Banner, lifting our military's voices to kill Iraqis soon after the first unnecessary Persian Gulf War. Whitney Houston was trotted out like Helen of Troy, her [voice] hailing the launch of a thousand rockets (instead of a thousand ships), of U.S. "bombs bursting in air."  This iconographic woman, who marshaled our nation's military might, would find herself vulnerably alone, naked, in a warm tub, retreating into the womb of Mother Earth, a reverse embryo on the verge of nothingness.

Fame is our crack cocaine.  The human ego has reached gargantuan solipsistic navel-gazing to a degree that even the famous can't get enough of themselves. I recall my stupefaction learning that when he was younger, even Prince William, already a teenage heartthrob and legendary heir to the Windsor throne professed his desire to actor.

Let that sink in.

River Phoenix -- drug overdose
This then-boy, likely already the most famous "son" in Western civilization, whose mother, Princess Diana, Duchess of Wales, died a horrible death from being hounded by paparazzi, could not get enough adulation for being born to a rich family who crowned themselves rulers of the Western hemisphere. He wanted more. And when he visited the United States, his blushing wife, in tow, where did he go? To meet legendary Jay-Z and his wife, Beyonce, American icons: the swashbuckling, hip-gyrating, songstress-rapping storytelling duo that has whipped the world into a frenzy of adulation so much so that old moneyed uber super stars want to be aligned with them to secure the street cred to "rule" the future Britannia even better.

I haven't touched on the infamous famous, like Monica Lewinsky, who is a household name because she performed fellatio on the President of the United States.  Having accomplished this Herculean feat, she is now qualified to write articles for Vanity Fair, sitting among a pantheon of meritorious writers.

It is not the love of money that is the root of all evil.  It is the love of fame that is evil. It is a cancer that has infected our world and it will only get worse, as the masses continue to be fed stories of "rags-to-riches" triumph that inevitably crash and burn in a drug-addicted death, a dangerous driving accident, or a tragic life of looking everywhere for love, not realizing that loving yourself is the best admiration to which one could ever hope to aspire.

I have shied away from idolizing any living person except my grandmother, when she was alive, and my mother, who lives and breathes--yet, she, too is only human. We can all cast our gaze and applaud the feats of hard-working individuals who have climbed from anonymity to be known to the world. But don't get it twisted. For those who seek only fame, it comes at a price.
Michael Jackson, Drug overdose

Bobbi Kristina is paying for it, as are Michael Jackson's children.  And our nation is paying for it, too, while we spend hours reading the gossip sheets and internet sites, reveling in our celebrities' latest perils, instead of helping each other solve our own.  Our nation is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, addicted to being everyone but our individual selves. We are in a perennial state of youth, where nobody grows old, and everybody is consumed with consuming like a rock star.

Whitney Houston's death, and her daughter's impending one, should remind us all of the price we pay for fame that no one is accustomed to handling without special assistance. We would all do better to  wish for a long life of happiness, creativity, self-improvement, an income in which to live comfortably, and the love of family and friends. 

Grow up...and old, America.  It's better than dying young. And famous for dying so young.


cwheard said...

I grew up singing the majority of my child hood choir solos and a little travel, I remember there was an art to it a love to it and a talent, but when start seeing the price to pay for being famous it wasn't for me even though I wasn't singing for fame it is a God given talent. But after seeing all the cut throat and price may have had to pay.Glad did not go that path. A great article and timely hope others take heed

VL Towler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VL Towler said...

Thanks for your kind words. Yes, it is very sad that those with a pure passion for their craft, and who are not in it for the money, are overshadowed by those with a sheer hunger for fame, and often times, less talent. I think it's a mental illness, actually, to "want to be famous." But I'm not a psychologist, so I won't go there. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it (I had to delete the earlier post for typos!)

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