This morning while perusing msn.com 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?
Robert Downey Jr.
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.