I never understood those kids at school who dreamed of growing up and becoming famous. I hated the thought of being the centre of attention at my own birthday parties, let alone taking to the stage in a public setting.
Yet lately I feel as though I would gladly trade places with certain celebrities. It’s not that I want to be in the spotlight, or crave attention. But let’s think about it for a moment: what do the rich and famous have (in abundance) that I don’t?
Time. Flexibility. Freedom. Money. A voice. A platform from which to pursue other passions. The opportunity to make a significant difference to causes close to their hearts. They seem to lead pretty awesome, amazing, authentic lives.
Maybe those fame-mad kids at school were onto something.
Once you reach a certain level of fame, it appears that you have both the financial backing to actively pursue other interests, as well as the flexibility to create the sort of life you want to lead.
Could fame buy you freedom?
Many people will probably argue no. ‘Just think of the paparazzi’. ‘Can you imagine being recognised everywhere you go?’ ‘It’d be awful being under public scrutiny’. Yes, yes, and yes. But would I sacrifice anonymity for influence? Maybe.
Celebrities are often painted in a rather trivial light. Fame is both admired and mocked in equal measures. On the one hand people are celebrated as ‘incredible artists’, yet on the other they are ruthlessly pulled apart in trashy women’s magazines and gossip blogs. We’ve put celebrities in a cage and decided they are there for our entertainment.
I used to buy into that shallow definition of fame, seeing it all as something rather silly and grotesque. A ridiculous parade of beautiful people just to make someone, somewhere money. But my cynicism is fading. There are some celebrities using their fame to make an incredible difference to this world. The idealist in me thinks, what an amazing place this would be if everyone had the time, money and freedom to pursue their passions? What if everyone ‘made it’? Fame seems to be one ticket to a truly autonomous life.
I know I am looking at fame through rose-tinted glasses, and that no celebrity is created equal. For every person using their voice to do something good for the world, there is definitely someone shouting damaging trash from the rooftops. But I can’t help but hope that the tide is turning, and that more celebrities are speaking out with voices of reason through the trivia and nonsense.
I follow a handful of celebrities on social media, and every time I see their posts I am reminded of the beautiful world we live in. You only have to look at what Leonardo DiCaprio did this week to realise the true impact fame can have, if exercised carefully. The actor donated $15 million to various environmental groups. He also regularly raises awareness about environmental issues across social media. Whenever I see one of his posts on Instagram, I am reminded that we are all in this together, and that there are certain issues that transcend any cultural or linguistic barriers.
Celebrities seem to be moving beyond the red carpet and towards a bright, new era of social change and collaboration. I hope this means people’s attention will shift from what a celebrity looks like (and how much they weigh), to what a celebrity contributes to the world with their work.
If this is what fame looks like moving forward, then I hope young kids do grow up aspiring to have a meaningful, positive influence on humanity. I for one have been inspired to keep trying to live with authenticity, purpose and compassion. Thanks Leo et al. ;)