Steve Weber: Toxic Hollywood

While it is never fully acknowledged as having any ill effects, the hunger for Fame has reached epidemic levels and has replaced art, education, politics, medicine and civil service as an acceptable career objective for today’s youth. Because once under its spell, the pursuit of Fame can become an obsession on the order of chasing the dragon, making one all too willing to sacrifice anything in order to obtain its fleeting and instantly addictive high.

What an interesting generation we are. We all acknowledge that not everyone should be famous, that celebrity is toxic, and that everyone wants to be one. We know that being famous is a poor drug and goal, (think of those people famous for being famous, and you know what I mean: Paris Hilton, William Hung), and yet it’s something that most of us do strive for. Many people are hit hard when they realise, at the age of forty, that despite having no real musical talents they will not ever be a rock star. Those same types reel with shock when they discover that they are not already great writers, athletes, and television personalities.

Is it enough to say that sometimes, and in the past certainly, I’ve been like these people too? What is it in our culture that creates and stokes this desire? It should be self-correcting. People should learn, with their first brush with fame, that something’s wrong– just by needing that extra high. But they want more, and accept that as something they need to feed and flame. Because in the twenty-first century, the body is never wrong.


  1. I think a lot of people do, I think most people do. Alfred Bester implies frequently in his collection of short stories that everyone does it, and that it’s a sign of immaturity.

    Maybe the fact that more people are doing it now (I think this is frequently observed), and to a later age (this part especially), means that in some respects we are still a very immature generation. An old woman in the store called her daughter a teenager yesterday, and she’s thirty years old. She says she calls in the middle of the night, just to say hello, and doesn’t understand that this is the wrong thing to do.

    It’s fun to imagine grand things, but I don’t know if I imagine them in the same way I did before. I think earlier my dreams were more general, not having to do with my real talents, whereas now they’re more specialised.

  2. Who calls in the middle of the night? The old lady or the 30 year old?

    My dreams are still very general. Well, I guess I imagine being a famous academic who jetsets the globe. Hah. But like, can you imagine the people who actually live the dream?

  3. The daughter calls!

    But yeah. It’s hard to imagine. I wonder what their lives are like. I think some must be very stressed and take it very seriously, while others must find it kind of funny. I hope that they do, anyway.

  4. Nothing! Just to talk. And she says “oh, sorry mom, I didn’t realise you were sleeping,” and keeps going.

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