We all see images every day of famous people. I think that often times, we don’t really think about what the images are or why the people or other material which are portrayed are famous. I also think that there are different levels or types of fame that we are faced with.
For example. If I say to someone, “Who is Michael Jackson?” Most people will know who I am talking about and probably even have an image of him or some of his work come to mind. Jackson represents one of the types of fame that I am referring to. He was a very famous musical artist in his lifetime, in fact many would argue that he was the most famous musical artist to ever live. But in another way, he is often seen as even more famous now that he is dead. He lives on and will likely continue to live on for a long time, if not for all of history. Another type of fame comes form someone like Vincent Van Gogh. During his lifetime, he was not well known, but after his death and continuing on into modern times, he is very well known for his paintings and his work is now worth millions of dollars.
Why is this? What causes people to be seen as famous? I would argue that there are many different factors which can contribute to this. One of these is the way that people live. I think that anyone can be famous if they place themselves in the public eye and live in a way that causes attention to be drawn to them. Michael Jackson was a good musician and singer, but I think that one could argue that his music is not what made him infamous to the extent that he is. It was instead, his lifestyle and actions that created this infamy. The way that the media portrays people can do this also. Many other people today do the same thing. Take for example one of the new shows on television that has somehow become a hit: Honey Boo Boo. This child was never seen in the public eye until someone put her there and her family is taking every advantage they can and in a way selling themselves for fame and money. Van Gogh, on the other hand, became famous after his death, and because of people’s interest in his life, we know a lot about his story and his work.
This happens with many people, and a good example of this, I think is Salvador Dali. (Dali also happens to be one of my art heroes.) Dali started his life as a nobody in the art world. He created images that many people did not like, and that even today many people do not like still. He became famous in his lifetime because his lover and muse walked to every art studio she could get to and took his paintings and eventually someone fell in love them and through the process, he became a famous artist.
Most people today, if shown an image like the one above would know right away who it portrayed. Dali, once he became known as an artist, began living an eccentric lifestyle and throwing himself into the public eye. He built buildings that were life-size works of art, interactive and able to be lived in. He dressed strange and wore a crazy mustache and acted in a way that many would call crazy, all to fulfill an image that he created. The public ate this up and followed him and he became more and more famous until he eventually reached a level of infamy and will now likely live on in the media and in the hearts and minds of many forever.
I think that this idea, this framework of fame is something that is naturally given to some people. But I honestly think that it is something that many people strive for and unfortunately, because of the way that people think, anyone who is willing to be crazy enough or strange enough for a long enough period of time can grab the public’s attention and at least for a time, achieve a status of fame. I am not sure what this says about people or the public, and I am not sure that I like what I think it may be saying. I simply do not know what it is about people that makes them so desire to follow the life-choices of the extravagant. I don’t know why people have this need to be fed in this unexplainable way.
I also think though, that for some people, fame is inevitable. People like Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and many others became famous for reasons that are explainable. Their fame will likely live on into eternity… and i think that this is rightly so.
So what will you do? What do you think? When faced with the decision to follow the life of some idiot who desires nothing more than to make money from your willingness to cave to the reality that your culture and media tell you is right… will you? Or will you think for yourself and ask the questions that I think need asking?
Is this something that benefits me or society in some way, or is this just some person who will be famous only because I let them for some time? Is it worth my time to invest in this, or am I just fulfilling some strange desire that for some reason dwells within the human nature to see just how extravagant or just plain stupid some people will allow themselves to be portrayed for the sake of a moment of fame?