Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fame in the 21st Century

I don't understand what it means to be famous in today's world. I remember when I was growing up (back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth), you needed a certain talent to become famous. And once you were famous, it was for that specific talent. I guess Andy Warhol was right when he said, in the future everyone will be famous "for 15 minutes."

Today, you have people like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. Hilton is a rich girl whose only known talent is being a rich girl. She became famous for going to parties (???). You and I go to parties. How come we're not famous? Then Hilton became an actress. Outside of House of Wax, her movie career was not too much to write home about. Then she tried singing. Lots of people sing in their shower, does that give them the right to be famous for it? Kim Kardashian is famous for having a big butt (I'm not kidding). That, and her father was a very rich L.A. lawyer who hired a very good publicist.

After you become famous today, you can pretty much act like you're an expert in anything. It doesn't matter whether you are or not. I like Bill Cosby, the comedian and actor. Everyone will always remember the great character Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show. Chances are if you hear him speak nowadays, he'll be talking about serious topics like young African American males or politics. I actually agree with Cosby on most of the things he talks about but I would rather see him do jokes about pudding. That's what made him famous and that's why we like him.

Last night, I saw Penn (from the illusionist duo Penn & Teller), talking about President Obama on Larry King Live. Who cares what he has to say about Obama's health care plan, the Middle East, or anything else besides magic? His job is to make things disappear, trick us, and then go away himself. I sat there in disbelief wondering who were these people at home taking anything he said seriously.
Then you got Curtis Sliwa. He's the guy with the red beret that started the Guardian Angels crime fighting group in New York City in the late 70s. This guy's on cable TV every time I turn it on. There are guys at your local corner bar that could give you better insight on things than him. They're not on TV. Sliwa shouldn't be either. As the saying goes, he's got a great face for radio. Why is he still famous?

This brings me to the recent controversy surrounding David Letterman. I stopped becoming a fan of his when he became famous and started getting A list guests. Before that, his show was geared towards college students and was much more clever than it is today. He had a steady group of weird guests that were interesting. I thought his jokes about Sarah Palin's daughter were in poor taste. Every morning on the radio and in the newspaper, I hear clips or read articles about Letterman apologizing to his wife, CBS, the fans, etc. for his unprofessional personal life. Enough already. You're a comedian. Tell jokes. CBS will deal with everything else. Apologize to your wife in private. It might be asking too much but wouldn't it be nice to go back to the days where all we asked our entertainers to do was entertain us?

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