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.