Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Immortality's what we're buying?

One of the saddest trend going in our world today is the one that pushes us toward our fifteen minutes of fame.  Ever since Marshall McLuhan came up with that prediction, the world has been marching toward fulfilling it like it was a command, not an assumption.  From the popularity of Survivor (over ten years ago now!) rose the monolith of reality television.  The belief now is that my big break into the celebrity world is just a submission-tape away, or with YouTube, a viral video.  If I am a somebody on tv, I am somebody. 

The blurring of what is real and what is not is evident in tv shows like The Hills for young people and also The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for slightly older.  Is it real or acting?  Do I have to be someone I am not, sell myself out, ignore my conscience to be popular?

It sure doesn’t take much to become popular today.  It may be as easy as singing really badly, behaving poorly, staging a phonynews event, wearing something in public that should have at least two layers over it, tweeting something insensitive or rude… doesn’t take talent, it takes a plan. 

When I used to ask students ( I taught Grade 8 for thirteen years) what their dreams were for their future, the trend was toward being famous.  “I want to be a famous fill-in-the-blank.”  I rarely (likely never, truth be told) heard, “I want to be a really good fill-in-the-blank.”  For some it was because they thought the famous musicians, dancers, athletes, actors, lawyers, or doctors must be good.  For many though, it is the fame itself that they really wanted. 

If I am not “somebody”, that doesn’t mean I am “nobody”.  Tell it to your babies.  What is right is not always popular, what is popular is not always right.


Will said...

I think that it goes back further to TV-Validity. If a product or service had advertisements, they seemed more established than one that didn't (like RC Cola.)
I was raised with a healthy distain for brand names, and it stuck with me, so there's a lot to be said for the parenting style. As for fame, a 13-4 year old would only see the glamour, but through high school,many (though certainly not all) will see the privacy intrusions that the famous endure, and think better of it.
PS was your title a reference to Steve Taylor's "Am I In Sync"?

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I love watching reality shows on TV , The X Factor and the like but why do they insist on putting people on who obviously hasn't got any talant? They are not only making fools of themeselve(The Judges) but bigger fools of the contestants.


Ron Easton for Dads UnLimited said...

Will:I think that likely started the idea that tv-makes-right. I just think that the lust for popularity has heightened ad been cheapened at the same time...maybe I'm just getting old! And though some see through, many still strive for it, and many of the rest of us sit dreaming on the couch.
And, yes, I am in Sync!
Yvonne: I agree, thats mostly my point, and I just don't see much backlash to that yet.

Anonymous said...

I personally would hate to be famous. Ugh!! But everyone seems to want to leave a legacy. Politicians scramble to leave a legacy before they leave office as if they'd hate to be forgotten. Legacy can be a great thing, I think that's what our Dad is giving to us and what you're trying to do for your kids too!

Eve said...

You're right, the trend today does seem to be to clamour after fame..I personally think it would be horrible to be famous..everybody wanting to know every detail of your private life, as if it's somehow their's bizarre to me how the public holds up these reality show people as if they're real celebrities..most of them are just famous for being well known. It's a shame that this is what most kids see as being somebody. Marshall McLuhan was right.
I like the Daily Show and the Colbert report..I don't think those are reality shows though..I think John Stewart and Stephen Colbert just put a humourous twist on the news of the day..anyways, love this really make me think!

Join Us For Breakfast said...

Ron, In answer to your question from a few days ago, today dashboard says there's a post from 5 days ago called beliefs that rock our kids worlds but it's not there that I can see. It's ok to write in advance and post them later I'm just answering your question about what I see today.

Ron Easton for Dads UnLimited said...

B: I hear ya, and appreciate that you said that, I sure hope that is true, because day-to-day its tricky and hard to see if its happening.

P: I have posted a few ahead, and will continue to do so, I just didn't know that they showed up. Maybe that one was one I posted then took down again.

Eve: I also really like Colbert's character and Stewart's "news". I was more thinking about the idea that the line between true and untrue, real and unreal is blurred. Steven Colbert plays a character named Steven Colbert who says things that he believes and doesn't believe. Its all comedy, but its also confusing. I just read a biography on Colbert, finished it last night in fact, and he too gets confused by it and worries that his kids will too.