Fame fuels fight

March 30, 2008

by Mary Nash

Last week, my boyfriend, Michael, and I were fighting.

While anyone who knows us would find this completely normal, this time we weren’t so much fighting as debating today’s society.

Why is it someone can be famous for making a film or CD, yet if someone were to discover the cure for cancer today, we would not remember their name in a year?

Michael said he feels the reason things are this way is because people today value entertainment over substance.

The only answer I could come up with is that repetition is partly to blame.

With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can see how many Starbucks runs Britney Spears made today or whatever part of the world Angelina Jolie is saving.

Yet, how many people could identify Stephen Hawking or Paul Allen, much less care what they do on a daily basis?

Maybe the answer lies closer than we think.

Blame it on the publicists or the media, but access to nearly any celebrity is never too far away. Celebrities constantly have projects going on and their PR personnel are doing everything in their power to bring light to it.

Let’s try an experiment. If by some crazy Twilight Zone-like occurrence, a conference was held and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Paul Allen were both in attendance, I would put money on the fact that after the conference Grohl would be inundated with hordes of people flocking to take a picture or speak with him and Allen would be left in the dust by the vast majority.

Both people are intelligent in their own right, but I think it comes down to the fact that people think they know celebrities.

Not only that but when we see a celebrity embody a character in a movie or on television, many of us connect with that character and, in turn, the celebrity. We see ourselves through these people and place our wishes, desires, pain and broken hearts with these people.

However, with people such as Paul Winchell, who revolutionized the world with the invention of the artificial heart, or Konrad Zuse, who invented the first computer controlled by software, many of us have no interest. If we even remotely know who these people are, many times we tend to find these people drab and dull.

Also, many of us wish to have the lives of celebrities.

We want the fame, the parties and the big houses. Even if the people who invented the Internet had loads of money, they’re not in the spotlight.

Plus, they had to work many times harder to get where they are. Frankly, the majority of us are lazy and don’t want to do the work, we just want to reap the benefits.

In the end, there was no winner in our debate, but there is no clear answer, either, as to why it is the way it is.

It just is.

Mary Nash is a senior journalism major from El Dorado, Ark., who serves as a news editor for The Tech Talk. E-mail comments to man016 @latech.edu.