FAME GAME KILLS AUTHENTICITY
Undeniably our capitalist, tech savvy, modern, social media conscious culture, judges us all, to some degree, by wealth and fame. The desperate Hollywood question forever pounds my ears, yes but how many twitter followers does she have? The urgent demand for a numerical validation, not just for my work but for who I am, a number to be deemed worthy of auditioning/meeting/talking to/treating well/giving a Visa to. Or not, as my cemented figure of ‘0’ makes even the most aggressive Hollywood player recoil. I’m not on Twitter. I tried it, I didn’t like it. Namely I detest the impulse it birthed in me to manufacture an image slash reputation. I’m an Actor. My motivation, existential angst, commitment, love, passion, intellect, instinct itself, is a quest for truth, to find it, to experience it, no matter how painful it may be, to reveal it, to share it, to embrace it, to know it fully and to learn from it, because it is only in this process I found meaning in the word Freedom and Life itself. Don’t get me wrong, I have a relatively comprehensive understanding of world economics and trade; I acknowledge the full pulling power of a branded image and how the powerful Tweet Kings and Queens influence their myriad of followers to eat this, say that, wear a little less, do even less and well just basically follow. Don’t get me wrong: it’s tempting, I know I could put on the right Victoria Secret Bra, contour my make-up, throw on some spiked stilettos and with an expert photographer, some brilliant lighting or filter, I could tweet a rock solid HOT photo that would get me more than a few followers, a few likes, a few compliments and no doubt a call from my Ex. Like I said, it’s tempting, especially with every Actor’s continuous internal Birdman esque Ego versus the Id battle, some superficial flattery and aesthetic compliments would feel real good. For about half an hour and then the Artist remembers all this surface level superficial bullshit doesn’t really mean anything and is in fact the complete satanic antithesis of what being an Artist is; a bloody great road block on the road less traveled to the ultimate, Truth. You should note, it’s not just Twitter that makes me uneasy, I am also up for some Facebook and Instagram bashing as well.
Am I waging a war on Social Media? Absolutely not. In the right hands, social media can bridge worlds, save lives, provide advice, raise awareness, funds for humanitarian efforts, aid understanding of international Politics, Economics, crisis’ and teach invaluable lessons. My attack is not on social media but on the drive for fame, and wealth that govern its usage, manipulate, masquerade, and hide all that is really real. I’m gravely concerned that whilst all our attentions are on fame and wealth, be it our own or others, we are denying the freedom to actually just ‘be’, to experience a pure honest moment. I am gravely concerned we are killing not just our truthful Artists but permanently stunting the evolution of the Human Race.
When my character asked Eddie Redmayne’s Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything Now that you are recognized everywhere, how do you deal with all the attention? I was always deeply aware of a fear in those words, an acknowledgement of the weight that Fame brings, that your ability to deal with it, to engage in it alters your behavior. That somehow a different set of rules exist when it comes to fame, and the powerful implications it manifests. Fame in the wrong hands is catastrophic, we have seen it countless times destroy and kill the Artist, with drugs, reckless abuse, a public self-destruct button. If I’m completely honest, it makes me want to run and hide like a child, protect that innocence. I note the compelling sense of excitement Fame delivers, but also a deep down dread. I can’t help feeling that through my work, with every play, film, commercial, meeting and interview I’m slowly creeping closer to that stardom goal, but also creeping along the edge of the most formidable and foreboding cliff. Maybe I’m not cut out for fame. I don’t think I could dance quite so beautifully in its clawed grasp as others might. In The Theory of Everything Stephen Hawking answers the question with humor. He defies recognition claiming he is not the real Stephen Hawking because the “real Stephen Hawking is much better looking”. Arguably one of the smartest people in existence makes the conscious choice to acknowledge and yet still shy away from fame, not to hide from it but not to bask in its light either. He draws a line.
I believe you need an intimate environment, trust and a level of vulnerability to create good work and truthful artistry. A quietness. Amidst all the noise, tweeting, likes, filters and influence, we can forget that true genius, and true art are birthed and created not manufactured and manipulated. There has always been a recognizable difference between the work of the Artist desperate for notoriety and social acceptance and that of the Artist galvanized into action by an innately powerful and explosive, creative and universal force. The truth remains the truth no matter how we spin it.
Fame hungry narcissists in us would trash the deep and meaningful for commercially viable and engage in a pageant popularity contest. We can all name three Kardashians: Kim, Kortney and Khloe, the famed offspring of the man who got OJ Simpson legally cleared of his wife’s murder, but can we all name 3 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize? Disturbing isn’t it? Notoriety wins. But it’s not just reality show celebrity that are winning the Fame Game, even the most un-artistic people are inspired to record their daily achievements, be validated by peers and rewarded by a deep sense of importance and all because 32, or 64 or 5 billion people “liked” the fact you managed to put your hair into a perfect ponytail this morning (111 likes), or that you made an extra special cup of coffee with an awe inspiring beautiful dollop of milky froth (56 likes). The Artist in me is screaming inside of me: whilst I’m doing this, what am I neglecting? WHAT AM I NEGLECTING? That’s when I realized Truth also requires depth.
Fame aspiration is undeniably a psychological struggle for approval, acceptance, purpose and worth. It functions as an active suppressant for tormenting self-doubt. But is it worth it? In 5th Century BC we built the Parthenon. In 2015 a slice of pepperoni pizza is considered an achievement provided its photographed, filtered, posted and liked. (67 likes).
My Point: Fame should come with three gargantuan warning signs. DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE BIGGER PICTURE, YOU’RE CLOSER TO THE EDGE THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE. TREAD WISELY PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW YOU. NEVER FORGET YOUR TRUTH.
…AND lastly because I was deeply disappointed in myself, and it bothers me, here are 5 Winners of the Noble Peace Prize.
2014: Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai
2001: United Nations and Kofi Annan
1993: Nelson Mandela and Frederick Willem de Klerk
1991: Aung San Sui Kyi
1979: Mother Theresa.