Do You Really Want To Be Famous?

Tom Stevenson by Scott Webb on Unsplash

For as long as I can remember, my dream as a child was to become a footballer. Not just any footballer, I wanted to be the top striker for my team, Liverpool.

Football consumed my life when I was a child, and it still does to an extent. I grew up watching players such as Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen score goals for fun and receive adoration for doing so.

This was all I wanted to do. There was just one problem, I wasn’t good enough.

I’d class myself as a good footballer, but nowhere near good enough to play professionally, never mind for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, but deep down I knew it wasn’t going to happen. However, the lingering desire to receive adoration from a wider audience remained.

A desire to be famous still lurked under the surface for reasons I never understood. Looking back, I realised how stupid this was. Being famous for the sake of being famous is just stupid.

I think we all secretly wish we were famous, but do we realise what that would mean? I watched the Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, about Taylor Swift the other day and it was an eye-opening watch.

Taylor Swift has a life that a lot of people would kill for. She is a hugely successful singer with the world at her feet. Looking at her life from the outside, it seems perfect.

What the documentary showed was that all the trappings of fame, all the adulation and recognition we desire has a hidden side. What you don’t see are the hours she puts in to write new songs. The hate she receives online and the struggle to live an ordinary life that we all take for granted.

This is what being famous really means. Would you really want to trade the life you have now for one where your every move and decision is critiqued over and over again?

Maybe, you would think twice.

Fame Game

One of the most interesting scenes in the documentary is when Swift emerges from her flat and there are hundreds of screaming supporters waiting for her outside. She doesn’t interact with any of them, she heads straight for her car and jumps in.

She referred to this as a normal experience and that it is something that she has had to get used to. It’s worth remembering that all famous were not famous at some point.

There was a time when they were as unknown to the wider world as you and me. However, now Swift is the most famous pop star in the world and she can barely move without her every move being tracked by paparazzi or her fans.

When we consider fam and its trappings, this is one of the things we neglect to think about. It’s easy to imagine the riches, the ability to hang out with beautiful people, but there is a cost to this.

Famous people forgo the relative anonymity that the rest of society enjoys. They can’t walk down the high street without being recognised. They can’t wander into a shop without makeup or in their crumpled clothes without the paparazzi snapping them.

Fame comes with a price and a part of that is the forfeiting of your own privacy. Public figures become commodities in the eyes of the public. Everyone wants a piece of you and because they listen to your music or see you one TV they feel they aren’t entitled to that piece.

What gets forgotten in all of this is that famous people are still human. Just because they are rich and famous does not mean they aren’t hurt by criticism, want time to themselves or get depressed. Arguably, they suffer more than the rest of the population because of the pressures of fame which will induce the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

This is the life that beckons. The photos you see on Instagram are a snapshot in time. They are often what we want others to see. The reality is that there is much more going on behind the scenes that we don’t see.

Your Life Is Good

The age of social media has turned the idea of being famous into even more of a dream than it was before. Now, all you need is a phone, an Instagram account and a big following to be internet famous.

The expectations we have in our head of what fame will be like is often not the case in reality. You don’t anticipate the hate you receive, the crazy fans who stalk your every move or the depression that can emerge when your expectations are not met.

Wanting to be famous for the sake of being famous is a slippery slope. Swift relates to this in the documentary. She mentions that her whole self-esteem was built on receiving adoration from others. If she wasn’t making people happy she was failing.

This came to a head during the infamous incident with Kanye West during the VMA awards in 2009 when he stormed the stage after Swift won an award for best video.

After he left the stage proclaiming Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time, boos rang out. Although they were for Kanye, Swift was unaware of this and thought they were for her. For someone whose whole belief system was built on receiving praise, this was a blow to her confidence.

Taylor Swift deserves praise for opening up her private life to the camera. She could have very easily ignored the request from Netflix and carried on with her life. Leaving everyone to think that she led an idyllic life.

Instead, the cameras lift the veil of what life is like as one of the most famous people on the planet. It exposes her as a human being with flaws similar to you and I. We see that she is emotional in regards to her family and debates whether to use her standing to speak up about political issues that she holds dear.

Fame has a lot of benefits but it has its downsides too. Would my life have been happier if I was the star striker for Liverpool? I have no idea. I would certainly be wealthier and more well-known, but I would also have to deal with constant criticism and vitriol as well as unwanted intrusions into my private life.

Sometimes, it’s worth remembering hat we have right now when we make comparisons with those in the public eye. You might be surprised to find out that despite their success and riches, they trade some of it for a quieter life.

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