Friday, February 13, 2009

The Cult of Celebrity

As anyone who knows me can attest, I am crazy about Johnny Depp. (To say that what I am is "obsessed" would be under-stating it somewhat.) But I am not crazy because of Johnny Depp. And there is, I think, a big difference. (The fact that my 91-year-old widowed father has often given tours of my basement craft room – also known as “The Depp Shrine” should not have any bearing on my feelings on wacked-out fans, okay?)

I really don’t know what it is about our culture, our society, that we are celebrity-crazy. I think of all those sighing women, swooning over the young Frank Sinatra; or the shrieking frenzy of Beatlemania; or the celeb stalkers, who really are VERY scary…and obviously not all there.

I’ve seen Johnny in person twice now. The first time was at the Disneyland Premiere for POTC: Dead Man’s Chest. Unfortunately it was all-too-brief…as he was being whisked past our location by his “handlers” because he’d spent too much time at the beginning of the line of fans and the movie was about to start. (DANG IT!!) The second opportunity (at the Disneyland Premiere of POTC: At World’s End) was “much more bettah”…because One, we were sitting most of the day on bleachers (the front row – what a coup!), and Two, he came over to us and signed autographs.

I actually got to touch him…whoa. (But did I get an autograph??? NO. I was too busy snuffling away, eyes leaking, and babbling, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” like a fourteen-year-old with a crush on Zac Efron…sheesh.) I don’t even remember the moment. I do remember vividly his approach, what he was wearing, the look on his face as he greeted fans. I remember seeing his arm, I remember the feel of it….*INSERT A BLANK SPACE IN TIME*…and then I remember him moving past our location, further along down the line of bleachers. ACKK!!! I blew it!!!

My friend, who was sitting next to me, told me that he’d looked down at my arm (which had a temporary Jack Sparrow tattoo on it – I told you I was obsessed!) and did a double-take and said, “wow” or “whoa” or something like that, with a huge smile on his face. I remember NOTHING…NOTHING of that moment. What a total doofus…

(Oh, and the photo? That was the moment right after my moment...)

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little off-track…but it’s just a small example of the insanity which is fandom.

I know a person who sends cards and letters to actors…evidently LOTS of actors. Who follows any sensational story and somehow mentally or emotionally inserts herself into the frenzy. Kidnappings, celebrity deaths, marriages between stars, personal appearances…it’s a little disconcerting to hear her latest “involvement” with whoever happens to be in the media spotlight at the moment.

I also know a person who, through her good intentioned works for charitable organizations, came into contact with an actor. He wasn’t particularly famous when she first “met” with him (on-line, through his website), but he had appeared in a popular TV series and had a bit part in a very successful movie, which turned into a mega-hit franchise. Through her, our little group was lucky enough to meet him in person, and do a little fundraising for his charity. He’s a nice guy and it was our pleasure to spend time with him and help his foundation.

But I’ve watched this woman change over the past three years as her relationship with the actor has continued. I suspect that she is hoping that through her connections with him she will someday get to meet Someone Else (for a hint see above).

I’ve heard that money changes people. Someone who inherits a fortune, or wins a fabulous multi-million dollar lottery, ends up not the same person he or she was before the windfall. I’ve decided that this is also true in some cases with celebrity “hounds,” as I call them. This woman’s dogged pursuit of her goal has absolutely changed her…and sadly, not for the better. She has walked over, cast aside and hurt people that loved her. She’s become vicious and manipulative and vindictive. She is not the person she used to be (or, even worse, she hid what she actually was under the layer of warmth and generosity that we all saw and believed was her true nature). It’s all very sad and disappointing.

Am I crazy about Johnny? Yes, of course. I admire him as a person, as a father, and as a consummate actor. I think he’s incredibly intelligent and respect the fact that he’s a self-taught intellectual, who rose above rough circumstances and his own self-destructive habits to become what he is today. What I am not, though, is crazy because of him. I don’t spend hours plotting how to get close to his associates, or try to make “connections” with anyone who ever knew him or had contact with him. I don’t follow him around to every premiere or every fundraiser or every film festival. And I haven’t, nor do I ever intend to, purchase a ticket to Plan de la Tour, France and stake out his villa. I’m content that I have, in just six years, achieved what one of my co-workers termed “the Mt. Everest of Johnny Depp-dom” by having a brief, euphoric encounter with him, and will be content to watch his movies and enjoy his celebrity from a distance.

1 comment:

  1. That's me and Donny Osmond. I somehow feel content now that I've got my autograph and photograhp:) Johnny and Donny...I love it!:)