Fame: America’s New Drug of Choice

POSTING BY JB MADDAWG

 

Addiction.

Americans loved nothing better than snorting cocaine and eating barbiturates like they were M & M’s back in the 80’s.  The 90’s brought out people jonsing for a heroine comeback or maybe some ecstasy.  People were all high as B.A.S.E jumpers taking a header off the Prudential building  just to feel alive.  That’s when it happened.  The entertainment pimps that control the pop culture joy ride bestowed upon us the most addictive rush to date:  reality television.  They gave us a free sample bump and we were instantly hooked.

Oh, it started innocently enough.  MTV’s The Real World, Survivor and Big Brother were just a few programs that suddenly everybody had to be seen on.  Sure, being seen by a nation might launch a hopeful contestant into another avenue, but the draw for many was still the fact that there was a huge pile of cash associated with those shows.  However, the goal slowly changed from competing to convincing.  It simply wasn’t enough to win these shows.  The bigger prize was to “be somebody”.  Anybody.  The choice of a new generation.

Take Darva Conger, for instance.  Now, no need to start shouting her name into your phone so Google can give you a robotic, unemotional response.  I’ll give you the gory details instead, plus Google won’t call Ms. Conger a bleached out attention hussy.

Darva Conger was one of 50 women that competed on a live one-time reality show titled “Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire?”  Spoiler alert: Conger won.  Prizes for the rags to riches former ER nurse?  Nothing short of $100k in loot and a monster ass diamond ring. Yet, the kicker was the fact that Conger believed the whole show was just a ratings gimmick and she’d be America’s overnight sweetheart free of charge.  Yeah.

That’s when they hauled out Conger’s bridal gown and hubby to be and advertised multi-millionaire, Rick Rockwell.  Conger was forced to marry Rockwell on the spot, which she of course had annulled a week later.  Conger became the patron saint of gold bricking morons before one could say “misrepresentation”.  She would announce at a later date she would never have done the show in retrospect, and then immediately posed for Playboy and signed on for a night of Celebrity Boxing.   Moral of the story?  Fame junkies are just like regular junkies.  Conger had to be famous, even after being a pop culture punch line to a joke that went over her head.

Fast forward to present day.  Reality television is still around, although it’s just scripted garbage for model/actors to be seen.  Where the real action happens is on the streets of Everytown, U.S.A.  Now, everybody is famous.  Teen aged daughters now have entire cities of creepy old men waiting anxiously for her next t and a shot on Instagram.  Wives from around the country have thousands of Twitter followers commenting on their recipe for apple brown betty…and the fact that four inches of cleavage made it into the finished product shot probably had nothing to do with it. By the way, ladies. Favorites on Twitter from most married men are the new “show your tits!”.  The more you know and all that.

Oh, and believe me, men are just as addicted to fame.  Tweeting a photo of their abs or behind the wheel of a Corvette is as good as winning as Oscar.  Guys just love to throw around terms such as “rock star” to describe themselves, never mind that they’ve never picked up an instrument or even come close to achieving a level of talent that might earn them more than what’s in the tip jar at the local Starbuck’s.  People are addicted to fame like never before.  Kids, marriage or jobs, none of it can fill the void of the bankrupt fame junkie.  Now, instead of going to a quiet location to pick of a dime bag of whatever, Facebook is the new hoodie-clad dealer on the corner, ready to make a deal.  Just a little fix of fame to get one through the next low period.  All we all need is just that one big break to be recognized and loved by all.

I used to have those moments.  Endlessly vomiting about my “brand” and designing can cozies with my trademarked sayings printed all over them.  That was before I had the chance to meet and mingle with some that I viewed as truly famous.  The sci-fi  actor I loved as kid now forgotten and begging me for $10 to take a photo with him.  The auto racing legend I know that would now give every moment of his life-long fame to rid himself of his COPD.  The married couple I know that lost their kids and entire life because they made a bad judgment call and had fame pushed upon them. Now, with social media, people sell themselves to get a sliver of fame and at rock bottom prices.

Fame used to be a by-product of the naturally talented.  Now, it’s just another drug that people need a hit of to sustain their ego.  Money is irrelevant.  Recognition is the new lord and master.

Fame? Me? Not a chance.  I’ve kicked the habit.  I love to write and entertain, don’t get me wrong.  If I somehow manage to put a grin on your face or have taken the sting out of life by providing a few minutes of escape via an article, then I’m good.  Trust me, nothing more pathetic than some e-journalist asking for money to support his/her own fame addiction.  As any real journalist would point out, the second the reporter becomes the story, they’ve failed at their job.

And believe me.  I can seriously fail at my job without some half-assed fame complication.

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