Of the Rich and the Famous

In reading about V.S. Naipaul’s lifelong whims and fancies last night, I continued to be surprised by how pedestrian yet theatrical the lives of revered (well, maybe Sir Vidia cannot be considered revered completely) celebrities can be. In effacing the shadowy yet strident barrier that separates who we do not know from the what we do know, in trying to wrap our minds around the affected distance and the delicious access to the rich and famous, we are at once craning our necks to catch a glimpse of them from behind reinforced brick and stone, and absorbing gory details of their lives as if over sweet tea and buttered toast in their living rooms. What is it about celebrity-hood that suddenly makes them less human? That the banal reoccurrences of love, sex, and rock-n-roll is suddenly propelled into a glaring light that may be all too unbecoming.

More often than not, the stories deserve the attention they get. In the intoxicating trappings that accompany the lurid lives of the rich and famous, we find escape from our routine and conventional stories. Often, such intimate details may reveal a side of the celebrity that we had been kept in the dark about. If unruffled, collected, stoic Jinnah could only betray any emotion at Ruttie’s funeral, his broken, ailing, dead wife (I have suffered much sweetheart because I have loved much. The measure of my agony has been in accord to the measure of my love.), then we are suddenly privy to real and raw emotion. Real only because it bared itself only in trying circumstances, and raw because the world was waiting to pounce with bated breath. Sometimes though, we are surprised to find a natural thought process in the events of a celebrity’s life journey. Sir Vidia loved Margaret because she satisfied him sexually in a way that Pat could not, and he loved Pat because he could never churn out what he did without her unfaltering and forbearing support. He could love either, and leave neither. It made him a crummy human being, sure (I was liberated. She was destroyed. It was inevitable.), but there was awareness here, a sense of what was going on that was far removed from the haze of drugs, alcohol and hysteria. It suddenly reduced Naipaul to a fragile, imperfect human being. And really, is there any other kind? Celebrity or not?

I think what continues to surprise me is that tomorrow, suddenly you and I could become rich and famous. Because the urges are the same, the will (or lack of it) to fight our demons eternal. Really, we are just as normal as them celebrities. Somewhere, sometime some real talent, fine work, and good luck needs to surface to make our personas well-known, our memoirs interesting, but I could just as easily shed a tear for you, my darling, and continue to love you imperfectly as is my curse to do.

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