The Best Explanation Of Fame I’ve Ever Heard


I’m always amazed by celebrities who crave fame and claw their way to the top to get it, then resent anyone who so much as looks their way, while also hoping to keep the attention coming, bizarrely enough.

It’s such a mad psychological dance that these people do–“Look at me! No, don’t!”–but an old book I just caught up with got to the heart of these seeming contradictions with a real eloquence.

Here’s a bit of it:

“I wanted success and recognition without losing my anonymity.

“I was haunted by my psychological conditioning as a child to be inconspicuous.

“It was impossible. I had to adjust to shocking, baseless adulation and an enraging loss of privacy.

“Unreasonably, I resented the attention I attracted even though I had fought for it.

“The most pleasant strangers provoked my fury because they simply looked at me, or watched how I picked up a fork, or stared while I spoke quietly with my daughter, or told me that they had seen the same facial expression on the screen.

“I felt that it was not their right to stare or be interested in me. I was wrong, but regardless of how full of admiration their interest might be, I still resented it.

“I resented my enforced and constant awareness of ‘self’; I didn’t want to live in a world of only ‘me’.

“At first, I reacted with stony hostility, hardly smiling when someone approached me with a compliment. For a while, I denied that I was [me]–and I always felt ashamed afterward.

“After all, how could I call it an invasion of privacy when I had chosen to splash myself across the screen, seeking the applause and approval and attention of strangers?

“..The stardom I had fought for meant that ‘they’ would not leave me alone again. And of course I didn’t really want them to. I wanted to be wanted….”

This passage is from the 1970 book Don’t Fall Off The Mountain by someone named Shirley MacLaine, who’s still famous and quite savvy, thank you.