Friday, July 21, 2017

Are You Somebody?

Around 10-15 years ago I sat at the bar of a nightclub during SxSW listening to a band and drinking a beer. Normally during the festival, like most people, I try to get close to the band on the dance floor in front of the stage.  I had forgotten my earplugs though and so thought sitting farther away (bar was at front of building, stage at back) might save my hearing. A young woman approached me and then took the bar stool next to me.
"Are you somebody?" She asked.

I smiled, frantically trying to think about a good pick up line (yes, she was quite attractive), but nothing clever came to mind.  "Well, my mother thinks so."
She smiled back, and we exchanged a few more pleasantries, but she slowly eased away. Obviously, I was not somebody enough.  At SxSW it is very common to run into actors, singers, directors, etc., and she really had hoped I might fit into one of those categories. A struggling writer, fully employed, self-sufficient and cute (hey, I had hair back then and a number of females thought me handsome) academic advisor is not "somebody."
I've blogged beforehand about how women are just as superficial as men, but instead of looks, they lean toward money and prestige.  However, her affliction, well, okay, her desire, had more to do with acquiring fame and stardom.  A driving force for both genders.  I like to claim that this appears in generations after us Boomers.  After all, we were the generation that celebrated the anti-heroes, fought against the establishment and the status quo.  I have a feeling though that there might be a number of us who succumb to this desire too. Maybe.
I wrote a short story about this a number of years ago and actually convinced someone to publish it.  Titled "Thank You" it focused on a man who watched a little too much "TMZ" and "Dish Nation" and "E! News" and saw all these glamorous stars and people living the high life.  He soon became despondent because he was just a little old high school counselor.  He decided the only way out was, well, to end it all.  Okay, it may have been more black humor than just my usual ribald satire. Anyway, the moral was that everyone's life is important in its own way and we shouldn't judge ours by movie stars, singers, et al.
Unfortunately, we see this attitude all the time.  The attitude that being a star is everything, while being a good person, whether construction worker, teacher, cop or some other useful occupation (come on, do you really believe actors, etc. really contribute to advancing society? Pleeaasseee.) is to not have succeeded in life.

For example, a number of years ago I remember a news story where a Kardashian and Posse were walking through an airport and a reporter asked her if she wanted to meet some big name politician also going through.  I think it was Joe Biden.  She had no idea who he was, nor wanted to meet him.  If she didn't recognize his name, he must not have been important enough (similar to some college students who recognize the Kardashians, but not Ronald Reagan).
You really see this when watching those reality TV shows and they start with the tryouts.  There will be thousands of people skipping work, doctor's appointments or something in order to stand in line for four or more hours in order to spend one minute on a stage to try to impress someone that they should be a star.

My satirical book "Sex and the American Male" which mainly took aim at America's mass consumerism addiction, also touched on this.  The main character, Zach—due to microbes in his brain that want him to go crazy—always wants to impress his love by either having a great car or by having enough money and prestige to buy her "STUFF."  He has to be a big deal.

To a lesser degree I think you can find this in other countries, but they are mimicking us.  The US sets the trend.  As I mention in SEX, "we are the Borg." American culture and society is overwhelming. We will assimilate you. Resistance is futile.

As a child of the Sixties I put up resistance to this compulsion as best I can, but I have to admit, I'd sure like to get more people to read my books and this blog.

Oh, no, I'm infected.


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