Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Celebrity Victims

Millionaires want us to feel sorry for them.

I mentioned in my previous posting about Judy Garland syndrome. The pills and booze and depression and suicide attempts and whatnot - they define a lot of celebrity behavior, which is self-destructive.  Celebrities want us to believe that their life is just one horrible event after another, what with millions of adoring fans praising how great they are, filling an arena with thousands of people who cheer them on, and of course, counting all that money they make from these various enterprises.  It's a tough life, you don't know how hard they have it!

A rock star sing songs about how hard it is to be "on the road" with groupies throwing themselves at you and all the drugs and everything. They tear up hotel rooms out of sheer frustration at the futility of it all, because their lives are so difficult, what with the millions of dollars they make in record deals.

What's even dumber than that is that we fall for it. We listen to their songs and their stories and think about what a raw deal Madonna got in life, being super-famous and having all that money and celebrity. It must have been really hard for Michael Jackson to have those huge mansions and buy all that crap. He's the real victim here, right?

The reality is, though, that any one of these celebrities could have simply walked away from the entire thing any point in their career and probably had millions of dollars - more than you and I can scrimp and save together in a lifetime - and lived happily ever after. And indeed, some celebrities do just that, whether they're rock stars or movie stars or whatever. A very few of them actually save their money and put it aside and then decide that they don't need to work anymore and move off to some ranch somewhere and live happily ever after.

Yet others decide they need to spend more and more money and thus have to tour more and more and come up with more and more hit albums or movies or whatever in order to feed their ego. It was reported in the press, breathlessly, that Charlie Sheen spends $20,000 a month on wine alone - or something to that extent. He's created a money train that he can't get off of. He has more money in change under the cushions of his sofa than you and I can save it our 401K over 30 years. Yet, we are supposed to feel sorry for him as some sort of victim of his own malfeasance.

And that's just the point, these celebrities and rock stars were victims of their own malfeasance, whether it is excessive spending, drug use, cosmetic surgery, or a predilection for teenage boys as in the case of Michael Jackson. We are told they just can't help these impulses and that celebrity and stardom have ruined them, because they are given everything they wanted and have no self-control.

And perhaps there's a nugget of truth in this. We see the same thing happen with lottery winners, who have no financial common sense as evidenced by the fact they play the lottery. Once they win, they go to the car dealer and buy cars for themselves, their family members, and their friends - and then get Chinese takeout. Within a year or two, most of the money is gone.

It is said that birds can't count above five, so if you take one egg from their nest leaving five remaining, the bird will not notice. Similarly, rednecks and idiots believe that a million is a lot of money and spend it like it's an infinite amount. However the gap between a million and infinity is, in fact, infinity.

We don't really feel sorry for lottery winners who blow it all within a few years and end up bankrupt or in legal trouble. In fact we have a bit of a schadenfreude about it, congratulating ourselves for losing the lottery, because winning is such a rotten deal.

And perhaps then we commiserate amongst ourselves that being a celebrity or rockstar or movie star isn't such a great deal, as so many of them end up so unhappy. And thus we are much happier with our plebeian lives.

And again, there's probably a nugget of truth to this. Celebrity does have its downsides. As I noted before, Howard Hughes used to have old jalopy cars built up for him by his engineering staff, so we could drive them around and no one would think that he was Howard Hughes but someone who just looks sort of like him. He actually had one of these made for Katharine Hepburn so she could go to the grocery store and be an ordinary person, even if people stopped her and said "Hey, do you know you look an awful lot like...?"

Or perhaps celebrity is an addiction. Once you become one, the need for more celebrity becomes more insistent. Thus, it's much harder to would simply walk away from the entire thing and go back to a normal lifestyle. But then again, it may be hard, but not impossible.

Us ordinary folks have only so much emotional energy to spend in life. Spending it feeling sorry for celebrities seems to me to be a waste of time and effort.