I’ll say from the get-go that I think the idea of celebrity is among the most corrosive and destructive conditions in western culture — along with bigotry and substance abuse. That’s not to suggest that celebrity doesn’t negatively impact eastern culture. It’s just that nobody carries the football of a bad idea with more agility and zeal than we in the western world. And nobody spikes that ball harder.
Though my distain for celebrity is on my mind often, it shows up mostly when I’m on my bike. In the rhythm of my pedaling, and as the trance of increasing serotonin manifests, I often default to thinking about music. When I think about music, I think about musicians. Musicians, as we all know, occasionally become celebrities.
Make the distinction between celebrity and fame. Fame is when one is known by many. Celebrity is when one is revered by too many. Let the eye rolls begin. And so begins my thought-chewing…
Some artists arrive at celebrity because they put everything they had into becoming one. Their inherent talent, creativity, and dedication to practice, for them, was the means to an end — to be celebrated. Celebrity was the goal the entire time. It’s not that artistic celebrities didn’t work hard to gain that adoration, of course they did. It’s just that for many, the goal of celebrity superseded the idea of sharing their art.
Others though, put everything they had into cultivating and sharing their creativity — they simply wanted to make the world a better place by creating art and spreading it around. They became famous in the process — an occupational hazard, and for many, to their own embarrassment. I think of Neil Peart.
Whether their fame was intentional or a byproduct of pursuing their art, some artists do well with being famous. Whether they enjoy it or not, they learn how to manage it and all that goes with it. They work hard to walk the line between being famous and becoming a celebrity. They hope to paid fairly, they work hard to provide a good product in exchange for the payment, and they give back to society as they are able. They are often humble.
Other artists, as the saying goes, not so much. They live high on the drug of praise, and too often the more praise they get, the more praise they desire and pursue. The same goes for money and things. It’s not enough to share their art for a fair wage, they live as gods, well above the people who put them there.
Of course none of this is on the celebrity himself. This is 100% on how the public receives and reflects back to them. That’s where I find celebrity the most corrosive and most destructive — in the way us common folk praise, follow, worship, and prioritize celebrities.
I am certain we could better channel our energies and enthusiasms into outlets that would help the greater good. How much better might the world be, I wonder, if we simply acknowledged talent and paid it fairly rather than praised it, elevated it, and paid it far more than it’s worth.
Praise isn’t the only force that elevates people to celebrity, but that’s where it begins. Praise is the first evolutionary step on the path to idolatry, glorification, and worship. Worship, is where it all goes to hell, because that’s where our priorities, individually and as a culture begin to break down.
The older I get, the more I believe that we should acknowledge our artists, pay them fairly, show them appreciation when opportunity presents itself, but to stop short of praise and beyond. Paying them for their value and saying thank you should be good enough to satisfy their needs, as well as our own needs in relation to theirs.
Again, it’s not celebrities themselves that concern me. I could give a frog’s fat ass if Jackson Browne can write a poignant song or drag his girlfriend down the hallway by her hair, resulting in a police visit. Apparently he’s capable of both. There are far too many people though, in my opinion, who care far too much about either one of those things, and fail to simply appreciate the art. I just enjoy listening to his music — no autograph needed.
This is what I think about when I ride…
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes ridden: 6 😊
129 miles 🙁
4,700’ climbing 🙁🙁
15.4 mph avg 😐
7,500 calories 😬
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there is this from Dee Snider. Enjoy…!