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A few years ago I was teaching a filmmaking class at a summer camp for kids. One day, I asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. And most of them gave the same answer. They wanted to be famous. Actually, only about 75% of the class wanted to be famous. The rest wanted to be thugs. Honestly.
There was time… and not that long ago… when people aspired to be skillful at some particular endeavor; sports, the arts, car repair, whatever. But mastering a skill takes time… and usually a lot of it… time that could be better spent on other pursuits. Like indulging weapons of mass distraction. One of the students in my class told me that her favorite pasttime was practicing her autograph. She had no identifiable skills that I was aware of, but her penmanship was quite good.
In a media driven, celebrity focused, narcississtic culture like ours, it’s hardly a surprise that fame is the modern equivalent of the holy grail. And if fame is one’s goal, there’s never been a better time for achieving it than now. Now anyone can be famous…. and with virtually no effort too. In the fame game, talent is clearly an option, as evidenced by the endless stream of successful thugs, bimbos, airheads and reality tv personalities. And the great god internet can make a star out of anybody.
Now, perhaps for the first time in all of human history, “anybody” can be “somebody”. Andy Warhol envisioned a time when anybody could be famous for at least fifteen minutes. That used to seem laughably ludicrous. Not anymore.