Saturday, 4 July 2009

So you want to be famous?

When I was a kid all I ever wanted to be was world famous. It wasn't for the music, the game, or for the art. It was all about being famous and what I was going to do once I was famous.

For me it was about the money, the adulation, the parties I'd get to invited to, the other famous people I would meet, and the pretty girls. Not that I was sure what I would do with all those things at the time. I couldn't sing, I wasn't any good at sport, I didn't even know what acting was. I didn't know how I was going to become famous. I just wanted to be famous.

Looking at the life of Wacko Jacko I am glad that things have turned out the way that they have. I'm not famous, I'm not rich but I lead a fairly happy and normal life, and can walk down the street without being mobbed.

If I had achieved any sort of fame at a young age I am sure it would not have been pretty unless someone had stepped in and kept my feet firmly on the ground. Given free reign in a sweet shop I would not be able to restrain myself. I am not even sure that it would be pretty now. Unfortunately for Jacko and others like him he appears to have been surrounded by sycophants who indulged his every whim instead of looking after him.

This wasn't supposed to be about the crashes.....

I can go to the supermarket or go out at night and misbehave and nobody will really care. Photos of me misbehaving won't appear in papers across the globe, my every move and eccentricity (and I have a few) won't be documented and analysed incessantly by supposed experts in the name of news.

Wacko Jacko's music wasn't really my cup of tea but there is no doubting he was an extremely talented individual and his music had wide appeal. Like many talented people he also had his well documented eccentricities and because of his wealth he was allowed to indulge his whims - which most likely contributed to his untimely end.

He was also perhaps a little unlucky in that he also suffered various debilitating illnesses and injuries due to accidents on film and concert sets that may have led to a reliance on various prescription drugs.

But for all his supposed faults, brushes with the law and, a lifestyle that most of is can simply have no conception of, he can't have been the total nutcase that the media would have us believe.

Despite well publicised troubles with his finances he was in no danger losing his shirt. He owned catalogues of songs that included many Lennon and McCartney hits and he continued to earn tens of millions of dollars from his own work.

The saddest thing about Jackson's life is that he probably never experienced anything like a normal one. From an early age he was famous and in the public spotlight subject to all the pressures that living in that kind of bubble entails. Especially in this age of instant communications where everyone with a cellphone camera is a source of news, gossip, just waiting for a celebrity to start behaving badly.

We put people like Jackson on a pedestal, we idolise them, we buy their music, the magazines to help create the myth that they are special, we watch and hang on their every move and then delight in mocking them when they turn out to be as weak and mortal as we are ourselves.

The problem for anybody famous, for anybody who has never had the opportunity to live a real life, is that they don't realise, often until it is too late that their lives are not real, that they don't really matter any more than anybody else and that in the end we all have to live by the same set of rules.

Yes I am glad I am not famous-even in my own lunchtime. The young French Rugby player Mathieu Bastareaud probably feels a bit the same way after his recent trip to New Zealand.

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