I have blogged about fame many times in the past but never on here. It is super-relevant as many artists aspire to be famous. I have come to the conclusion that being famous is overrated; perhaps even more so if you have a disability.
I consider myself a humanity cynic. I am especially cynical about fame and pop culture. The fact is that many famous people are troubled. Some to the point of being fatal: for example, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse. The celebrity gossip industry is nothing more than one big soap opera about who's dating who, who's in rehab, who's in trouble with the police.
Feeding off people
Why can't people solve actual problems instead of feeding off people they have never met? You have no privacy, are constantly bothered by paparazzi, and not even your private photos are safe due to hacking. You are criticised for everything, prone to being obsessed about by people who probably need support for their mental health.
People want this life? I can think of nothing worse. No wonder celebrities turn to drugs: I'd do that too.
Before I rant some more, in the interest of balance there are some pros. Firstly. you can make your art known and be a role model. Personally I would rather be an educator than a role model. Money and sex can be a plus too, though if that is important to you then you don't need to be famous to do this.
There is a reason why I am obsessed with developing software. I spoke to another former comedian and we agreed that if we got offers in that department we would probably have done more shows.
Charity and visibility can be a plus; you can rally your fans to causes and do a lot of good. If you have a disability you can free people from their ignorance; many people believe that we can do nothing. Having people with disabilities in the public eye can change this. I have the goal of starting a talent agency for this reason.
Back to ranting. There is an extra layer of annoyance when you have a disability. Namely patronising comments; the annoyance is magnified. Also I have a problem with people in the media covering me just because I have a disability; though this is less of a problem if I have something to promote. Some articles can be dreadful; saying that I suffer from a disability or painting me as super inspirational. Vomit to both of these things. Though this can be a good teaching moment.
If you want to be famous, go for it. Just know what you are getting into. Personally I am happy to be a lesser known figure. I need to be somewhat of a public figure for the sake of book sales. I want to move towards managing artists and producing things that artists make such as music. I pretty much do stand-up comedy when it is super-convenient to me. I am starting to see this as a good thing. Doing art strictly on your terms is the way to go.
Thane Pullan is an Arts Access Advocate, comedian, writer and accessibility software developer based in Christchurch. Visit Thane's website where you can purchase his book The Teachings of a Grumpy Cripple.
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