The word “celebrity” has it’s root in two other words: “celebrate” and “personality”. Therefore, a celebrity is nothing more than a celebrated personality. And who the fuck would wanna be that?
Surely, the best and brightest among us would want to be celebrated, if we’d want to be celebrated at all – and that’s another can of issues to be explored at greater length another time- for something that we were actually good at.
Like, I can’t doubt for a moment that Lamar Odom, doomed basketball player, who clearly wanted fame so badly that he attempted to marry into it, didn’t mind when someone complimented him on his jumper. He also probably didn’t mind when someone complimented him on his handle. He probably took exception to concerns about his defense – which was never spectacular – but he probably breathed easy in the knowledge that, for a 6’10” forward, he not only moved a with a certain grace and fluidity, but also had the ball skills usually associated with much smaller men.
And this should have been enough for him, frankly. More than enough if you consider that these skills – he was born with the height after all – were the product of diligent hard work that would eventually earn him two championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now, I’ve long argued that once an athlete chips up, he is, as the kids say, “Gucci“. There is no heinous crime that isn’t pardonable to a champion. Witness the repeated drug consumption offensives launched by my favorite baseball player of all time, Darryl Strawberry. As a four-time New York champion, The Straw could do all the coke in Peru, safe in the knowledge that if the shit ever really got thick – and it has for him in the past – he could always come running back to good ol’ NYC where there would certainly be somebody willing to give him another chance and a job, if only due to the possibility that, at any moment, Darryl might start to reminisce about some mythic ‘good old days’ shared by him, the player, and his now-employer which is also, certainly, a former and perhaps even current fan.
Witness again Lawrence Taylor. The two-time New York Giants champ got caught with an under-aged hooker, from Christ’s sake! But LT is also, arguably, the greatest football player ever. He completely revolutionized how defense was played and how offenses reacted to those defenses. The whole hooker thing was brushed under the rug as a big misunderstanding.
And this is how it should be.
If, as I’m saying in my subject line, only a fool would want fame, then only an idiot would expect all men to either be equal or to be treated as such. If the kind of bullshit, brotherhood-of-man equality that’s in such theoretical vogue right now were actually in practice, then Lamar Odom might not even be a basketball star because some 4’10” fatso wanted to be one even more and I might actually be president just because I, on occasion, think I should be.
No, the problem, as I’ve been saying from the beginning, is with fame. Lamar Odom wanted to be famous. Lamar Odom wanted to be famous so badly that he married the only Kardashian he could get his hands on. His basic Puerto Rican baby-mama and his life as a talented NBA player weren’t enough for him. He aspired to celebrity.
Clearly, he never noticed that many people whose fame was on a level that he aspired to led closely guarded personal lives.
He probably never even considered how much he actually could say he did know about, say, a Jay-Z or a Michael Jordan. But, then again, Jay-Z and Michael Jordan, despite being famous, aren‘t celebrities. One is a rapper and the other is a basketball player. And those two men, Jay-Z and Michael Jordan, probably prove my original point better than most. Fame, in each of their cases, is a byproduct of greatness.
And when greatness is the goal, fame is almost always seen as both a burden and a distraction.