Last week I wrote about the first phase of fame, a Love/Hate Relationship. Once you find yourself in the crossroads of loving the acknowledgment and adoration and hating the loss of privacy and unrealistic expectations you move into Fame Dependency - the second phase of fame – addiction to celebrity:
Like your dependence upon the Internet, it becomes difficult to imagine living without your fame – or at least frequent recognition when you’re out and about. Such acknowledgement seduces you into a co-dependent relationship.
Fame is said to be the most addictive dependencies. Like a narcotic the high of validation and admiration produces a natural chemical within the body that can become emotionally and physically addictive. In response to the feel-good boost, the body produces higher levels of testosterone, the result of which is increased dopamine. The rush of naturally produced chemicals within our body makes us feel good, and causes us to seek the same experience, in order to produce more dopamine.
Drugs and alcohol do this as well, though researchers say the high experienced from power of celebrity is most like the high experienced from cocaine. Alertness, confidence, and energy is increased, but also paranoia, anxiety and restlessness (“Power Really Does Corrupt, Dailymail.co.uk).
Like an addict who becomes consumed with his or her next fix, some celebrities enter a stage in which they become consumed with remaining famous. The need for being admired becomes a narcotic – a needed fix to return to the delirium of the high. Embarking on a quest for a steady supply of admiration, adoration, approval and awe some go to misguided extremes to keep centered in the spotlight. At the ragged edge of notoriety there is almost nothing the fame addict will refrain from doing. To him, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
To exist is to be seen, be watched, noticed, talked about – have your actions debated in the media and cocktail party murmurings.When the bright lights move on, even if temporarily, a feeling of emptiness, neglect, deprivation, unfairness, jealously and even humiliation can set it. The seemingly obviously solution is to do anything to bask in the bright light of being seen once again – even if placed in a compromising position.
Yet we’ve seen time and time again how a derailed fake romance publicity stunt, check-book philanthropy with an obvious lack of informed passion, an egotistical rant – or anything done or said under the influence of alcohol – can undermine years of a meticulously orchestrated persona. Also, like too much of a good thing, over-exposure even without over-the-top drama can also fatigue fans.
Moreover, there are predatory people who hope to cash in on your fame and fortune during the addictive phase. If seen in public, someone may attempt to start a fight with the you in the hope that you’ll act out, capturing your knee-jerk reaction. Relatively large profits from suing you or selling their rapidly shot cell phone photos of your behavior – even if taken out of context. Those who will resort to unethical means for their own celebrity might also hope to profit from getting into some sort of legal tangle such as a traffic accident (Being in the World of Celebrity – Giles, Rockwell) or becoming impregnated by you (documentary about the lives of pro-athletes “30 for 30: Broke”).
Not everyone exits the stage gracefully when fame fades. When the money and career ends, the celebrity experience also ends – a sobering reality for most. Those who manage to deal with their celebrity without derailing reach a point of acceptance – the third phase of fame.
I’ll address Phase 3: Acceptance in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned…