Friday, May 15, 2009

The Mystery of the Accidental Celebrity

This morning while perusing I came across a link to an article about a shampoo inspired by Rod Blagojevich. You remember him right? The Governor of Illinois who sold now President / former Senator Obama’s seat to the highest bidder? No? Not ringing a bell? He was the guy with the really bad hair. No, the blonde one is Trump; this is the brunette guy that swears a lot. Yeah that is the one. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to cash in on his bad hair and make a fortune off it.

My gut reaction was to shake my head and utter the word “wow” out loud, but as I considered whether or not I actually wanted to read the silly article, it really got me thinking about people, society, celebrity and fame. Why are we so damn interested in failure, disappointment and the tragedies that people befall? And then after we are done judging them for all of the things they have done so terribly wrong, how do these people suddenly write best selling books, land made for TV movies, end up on the Today Show, have toiletries named after them or make guest appearances on countless television shows?

Remember Joseph Hazelwood? He was featured in the movie Waterworld, the TV show Futurama, talked about on late night talk shows and even made his way into a comic strip. His name was everywhere back in 1989. Maybe if I mentioned that he has a prominent apology published in the book The Spill: Personal Stories from the Exxon Valdez Disaster (by Sharon Bushell) it might start ringing some bells that he was the Captain of the aforementioned vessel. Wow. For a guy who was behind the wheel when one of the largest environmental disasters to take place occurred, he sure got a whole lot of name recognition.

That is the thing about being a celebrity. Those who are attempting to achieve it never seem to get there. OK some do, but it sure is a mother fucker of a time for them to reach their desired level of fame and windfall unless they are doing something insanely controversial to get there. I suppose if anyone ever tracked down just how many pop culture references were made to people like Albert Einstein the list would be so long no one person could ever write it; and he failed his first college entrance exam. Then again, perhaps that is why he made a name for himself; the lowest low occurred for these people and there was nowhere to go but up.

I am slowly convincing myself that every celebrity, be it purposeful such as someone in the entertainment industry or accidental such as these examples above, was in fact, accidentally made famous.

Let’s try a little game. I will throw out a list of names; you tell me what you remember about the thing that made them famous, the moment that their name was “suddenly” thrust into the mass media market. Ready?

Paris Hilton
Courtney Love
Robert Downey Jr.
Michael Vick

In fairness I understand that Michael Vick was a pretty remarkable quarterback before going to the dogs but I would challenge non-football fans to tell me what team he played for before going to prison. That’s what I thought. The jury, better known as the general public, is still out on Vick of course as his sentence is not up for another couple months. After all, it is hard to make it to the set of your movie, (starring maybe Will Smith?) when you are still under house arrest.

The funny thing about the list above is that the other three are in completely respectable positions these days; they took their accidental fame and were able to transcend. Well in a manner of speaking anyway. Courtney transitioned easily into a music career of her own and then slid like butter into movies. Paris actually has so many projects going it is amazing the woman has a chance to sleep. RDJ completely “reinvented” himself (as they refer to it in the biz) by giving one of the best performances of his life when Jon Favreau took a chance by casting him in the lead role of one of the top grossing comic book turned big screen smashes of all time, Ironman.

I guess enough time has not yet passed for Vick. After all it took RDJ almost twenty years to make his return into the open, embracing arms of the public. Even the Atlanta Falcons have not yet decided if they will take him back or attempt to trade him. Perhaps he would be a perfect fit with the often persecuted, Detroit Lions?

He could always do the commercials for the “Bleep’n Golden” Blago hair care products, considering Detroit’s proximity to Chicago. Then again, Vick might want to keep his distance from anything that controversial so he can make some money from his book sales. You know, just in case that football thing doesn’t work out.


Chris said...

Detroit Lions? Hell no. Michael Vick has "Oakland Raiders" written all over him. He'll arrive there at about the same time Terrell Owens does.

Bridgete said...

I loved RDJ when he was a guest star on Ally McBeal. At the time I didn't pay attention to "star gossip" (well, even less than I do now) so I was clueless about any of the other stuff. I just thought he was really good. Then he vanished for a while, I eventually learned why, and now he's back.

Still haven't seen Ironman though. I probably should. Netflix time!!

spottedwolf said...

Public buffoonery sells far more magazines than conservatism.

The best role I saw RDJ in was "Hearts and Souls" is probably closer to the truth of his inner life than any of the externals.

As far as PH goes....hers is as unbalanced as the illusions she was born to.

and Jocko.......well dem sports guys seem to think they're by the sword, eh??

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

A little play on the Black Hole there Chris? ha! (I am in full agreement they both belong in a big old black hole really, T-O aggravates me, he is so spoiled.) Though wouldn't Vick be better suited in Cleveland's Dogpound? ;-)

Bridgete, if you get it let me know what you think, who knows when ours will get here, there are about 80 movies in our queue lol. I totally forgot he was on Ally, used to watch that all the time!

Its true Dennis but I think its usually only after the buffoonery and subsequent attempt at "redemption" of their public persona that we choose who is and is not "accepted" in the end (Funny you referred to Vick as Jocko -- wasn't that Michael Jackson's nick for a while? Talk about persecuted publicly!). How bad was the thing that they did as compared to how much can someone make off them if they come back.

Chris Stone said...

doesn't TO have a reality show now? i mean, he is a reality show... lol. *I think TO was to show up in Buffalo with cameras in tow. lol. Buffalo might have gotten more than they bargined for!* Vick might try that route. Vick was offered an arena football job... for something like 500 a week and an extra 200 for a game! but when the owners heard the coaches wanted Vick, they stopped that.

spottedwolf said...

well keeerystafrigginmighty....if I hasta go any deeper in eggsploration I'll drown amid the dang buffoonery....we as JQPUBLIK don't really get much choice...for the general consensus towards celebrity has as much taste variety as our ridiculous society has opinion....I remember a half dozen cats servin' time for murder and such who wrote such tear jerkin' songs in their beleaguered state that they wound up superstars. Now whether one accepts their penalties as paid or not...bears little weight if the powers that be (ie; public opinion) wants them out. Our entertainment factor is kind of like the King's Court with jesters, clowns, jugglers, and all manner of sleight of hand. Its sort of represents the reality of our social order, eh?