I was watching CNN the other morning at the free breakfast bar at a motel - otherwise I would have missed the point of my post. I don't watch CNN. It was on. Frankly, I rarely watch any news channel. But, I was a captive audience for a few minutes, and David Hasselhoff and his daughters were on plugging their new A&E reality show The Hasselhoffs. Now, I'm not picking on The Hoff here, but the whole interview struck me a wrong, and prompted this thinking. He happens to be a good example of how I actually pity his and his family's situation.
I think most of us were raised to value our privacy and how family business wasn't something that needed to be broadcast all over the neighborhood - which is difficult to accomplish in a small town environment. Being a celebrity and the life in the spotlight pretty well shoots the idea of personal privacy right in the buttocks, as it were. Some famous folks keep their distance and try to escape the limelight - and these are the people I can relate to and understand.
But I "blog" so I've gotta be an attention whore and a hypocrite as well, right? I don't think so - this is a bit of a creative outlet that very few people return to read, so it's not like I'm in any kind of spotlight. Plus, I can assure you that what you see here is what I want you to see. You aren't seeing the more mundane or negative aspects of my life - and they certainly exist. I'm not bringing cameras into my house - I have no wish for the world to see just how lousy I am at housekeeping. You don't know the identities of my family. So I count myself as one who values his privacy and would rue the cost of being famous.
But then, there are those who become addicted to the klieg lights and the attention of the media and fans. Some seem to be willing to sacrifice any shred of dignity and privacy to stay there. Plastic surgery, botox and collagen injections, hairpieces, skin abrasions - we hear of all sorts of ways they try to keep their youthful looks long after the skin has started to sag and the hair has moved south while changing colors. Acting up in bars, feuds with other "stars," screwing around ruining marriages or ill advised marriages in the first place - anything as long as the name is being mentioned on the entertainment "news" media. Any publicity is good publicity.
One avenue to keep on the screen is an innovation perhaps older than we realize - reality tv. An American Family aired in 1973 - after being filmed in 1971. It featured the Loud family - the parents ended up divorcing, one of the sons was openly gay (and ended up dying of meth addiction and was HIV positive). It has been argued for years that the inclusion of cameras and the attendant exposure certainly helped destroy the family - perhaps they were doomed in the first place, but the spotlight didn't help any. The current crop of reality television fodder includes an awful lot of stars past their prime trying to catch the brass ring just one more time.
Let's look at how The Hoff justifies the new show:
We are inviting the world in to say yeah, this is who we are. Instead of like reading about us going "that's not us" or doing a five minute interview and trying to be charming and cute and funny, you know, and being kind of self effacing in five minutes. No, we're real people, we have a life, we have something to say, and that, that you know we love this business, we love show business, they're pursuing their dream to be actresses and singers and the ups and downs of it but also the fact we have feelings and we say we can do this through television which is a media that I love and make it entertaining, so yeah, come on in - this is who we are. We're inviting people into our home for the first time and saying "no what you read about us is what you read about us, but this is what we are", so hopefully you'll find it entertaining.
So the show is a defense of sorts from bad press. Okay. Then, of course, there was The Cheeseburger Incident, filmed by one of his daughters. Apparently it "got out" accidentally, but the family is stronger for it, plus there are people who have been inspired by The Hoff's continuing recovery from alcoholism and his relationships with his daughters. So, that's another reason for the reality show - inspiration.
And frankly, while I consider the whole thing more than a bit sordid and sad, there are those that do find this inspirational. They are the other side of the symbiotic relationship between the star and the fans. If the fans didn't exist, there would be no stars. If people didn't pay attention to the entertainment "news" there wouldn't be people vying to be headlines. So, we - collectively - are guilty of rewarding the aberrant behavior displayed. Notice I said collectively - because I could give a rat's arse about most of the latest flavors of people trying to push their fifteen minutes of fame into a lifetime.I sure follow NASCAR's famous folks - but they tend to be real people who aren't actively trying to be someone they are not in front of the cameras.
So, I pity someone who has to blend loss of privacy and self respect for fleeting fame and fortune. I cannot help but think these people are missing a large chunk of their humanity in order to be famous.