Fame is in some senses an absolutely concrete idea, and in other ways a pretty nebulous concept. It has always existed in some form or other in human society, but really came to fruition in the Twentieth century, when mass communication could finally make a face known to everyone.
It is a force with the ability to make otherwise sane people do extraordinary things . At the admiration end, people will stand for five hours in driving rain to catch a glimpse of the top of the head of someone who is presumably Leonardo di Caprio. On the aspiration side, perfectly attractive women will undergo painful surgery in the (usually vain) hope of becoming famous. The byways of Hollywood are practically littered with identical pneumatic blondes – which is perhaps very nice for local men, but not so fortunate for the aforementioned women.
Ask many people their ambition these days, and they’ll reply ‘To be famous’. Not ‘To be an actor’ or ‘To be a pop star’, just ‘famous’. Frighteningly enough, this is now possible with the advent of ‘Docusoaps’, where people are made famous for their mere existence in front of the cameras. This form of ‘meta-fame’ requires little in the way of talent, and in fact utter incompetence is a considerable advantage.
The Internet is opening new doors to fame even, maybe especially, for the incompetent. One can make it big by as simple a process as having an appallingly bad homepage that gets picked up by some media source, or one as complex as setting up a video camera in every room of your house. Note that this only generally works if you are a girl.
Fame shows no sign of abating, and in all likelihood is becoming the new religion; it all adds up – unreachable beings whose icons abound, whose every pronouncement is avidly read by millions of people, and who are snapped topless wearing a thong on beaches in the Bahamas. Well, near enough religion……