Our obsession with Fame.


‘Sunset Boulevard’ is a 1950s American drama named after the boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. The plot line stars an unsuccessful screenwriter  and a movie star named Norma Desmond who has fallen out of the spotlight after a wildly successful career. The entire time I was watching I could not shake the feeling that I was a prisoner. Norma Desmond is a prisoner of her own fantasy, the fantasy of being a star. As the movie progresses more and more of the characters become prisoners of her fantasy; Max, Joseph Gillis, and in the concluding scene the police, reporters, and friends.

While the movie ‘Sunset Boulevard’ takes place in the 50s, it recognizes the existence of an obsession that still plagues us today; fame. Paramount Pictures is depicted with wide swinging gates that (to me) almost seem like the gates of heaven itself. For Norma it was not a question of life or death. It was a question of Fame or death. If she was not in the spotlight, she did not want to live.

Now I would not say that we are ALL this obsessed with fame. Norma is definitely an exaggeration, but I believe we are all obsessed to a certain degree with the idea of celebrity. TV stars, Movie stars, Rock-stars, Athletic Superstars, and (to quote BJ Novak in his recent comedy show at Bucknell) even porn stars. television programming is ramped with shows like MTV’s MADE and Make Over BLAH BLAH BLAH Addition where the ordinary person is turned into the extraordinary. “We are going to make you a star.” Why are we obsessed with being stars? Has fame really become the new American dream? Americans used to imagine a life with a quaint house, their own yard, and a family who went to get ice cream in the evenings together. Now we want money, fame, success, and a 12 bedroom mansion with pool, theater, 5 car garage, and a cook. What happened to us?

In ‘Sunset Boulevard’ Norma seems to believe fame = happiness. Now I think our society would agree money = happiness.

So is this perhaps why we are obsessed with celebrity? Because we are obsessed with being wealthy? I think so. We are certainly not obsessed with celebrities because they are happiest, I don’t think anyone can argue that famous people are happy people. So why are we so obsessed with them? I’m interested to hear your responses!

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8 Responses to Our obsession with Fame.

  1. Jordi says:

    Grrrr…..

    Add the read more button!

  2. awhigbee says:

    Really interesting points, and obviously the Tosh.0 clip doesn’t hurt. I have never seen this movie but I am interested in how you say that although it was a ’50s movie it can really relate to today. I feel like that when I think about the stars of the ’50s versus the stars today, I can see the progression of a sort of “fame addiction” that the public has. I think it has a lot to do with the lack of value we have for ourselves (obviously not everyone) but there is a desire to be exceptional and we believe that celebrities have some of those qualities. Perhaps we are smarter than the average celebrity but we objectify them and are more drawn to them because we think they are better looking than us. Also the term “celebrity” is tough because there are various levels of it and various reasons for it. Sometimes it is warranted, and sometimes (Paris Hilton. like, really?) not.

  3. katiebaum13 says:

    I found this blog to be very interesting and very true. I live in L.A. and see this obsession with fame all the time. I don’t understand people’s obsessions over celebrities, especially celebrities that haven’t really done much to become famous (The Kardashians, Paris Hilton, etc.) I think it is terrible that media has made them seem like they are people one should look up to, and it is sad to think that these kind of people are young girls’ role models.

    • cornerback5 says:

      I agree. I think people buy into what they see on television way too much. However, in doing so they fail to realize that when the camera stops rolling, those celebrities are just as normal as any other person.

  4. Cander says:

    To me, it almost seems like Walzer picks up where Nozick left off. Nozick just seems to say, don’t interfere unless the inequality came about unjustly. Walzer explains a little more clearly that inequality is alright as long as it doesn’t create it everywhere. Wonder what Walzer would think about the 1%-99% argument from OccupyWallStreet

  5. Pingback: Does Film Noir Make it Automatically Fancy? | Biz Gov Soc

  6. Jordi says:

    I think money and fame are distinct. Sometimes, especially with the rise of cable financial news, money-makers attain the status of celebrity. However, fame is essentially status, and status is conferred by others; it cannot be directly bought. The richest person in the world can be anonymous; the most famous can be poor. But the most famous can never be anonymous.

    Now, why are some people famous?

  7. Pingback: Best of Blog, Week 7, Protests and Films | Biz Gov Soc

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