She wanna be know, she just wanna be known
April 26, 2012 2:42 PM   Subscribe

What is the source of the assertion (that goes something like) "When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, they say famous, but not famous for something" ?

I have head this stated in a couple different ways but the idea is always basically the same. I hear this frequently when people talk or write about fame, celebrity, reality TV or whatever stated as a fact. It sounds to me like one of those "kids today" lines of BS.

What is the origin of this phrase? Is it based on any facts (survey results, opinion polls, sociological research)? Is it from a particular convincing, funny or interesting opinion piece?
posted by bytewrite to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The internet seems to ascribe it to Banksy -- here's a page that seems to contain an interview he gave to Shepard Fairy which has the quote, though the actual link to the interview is broken:
I have no interest in ever coming out. I figure there are enough self-opinionated assholes trying to get their ugly little faces in front of you as it is. You ask a lot of kids today what they want to be when they grow up, and they say, “I want to be famous.” You ask them for what reason and they don’t know or care. I think Andy Warhol got it wrong: in the future, so many people are going to become famous that one day everybody will end up being anonymous for 15 minutes.
posted by brainmouse at 2:45 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ricky Gervais talks about this a lot - most of Extras deals with this theme in one way or another, but more specifically for instance in an interview for Desert Island Discs in 2007 he talked about a survey finding that a career aspiration for many ten-year olds was simply to be famous. It's not clear what survey he is referencing, though.
posted by greycap at 2:54 PM on April 26, 2012

This is almost a cliche of the British newspaper scare story about "today's teenagers".

Google quickly finds instances as early as 2006, a set of them in 2009, and another batch in 2011 / 2012. All of them are linked to "studies" (really meaning polls of children) put together by businesses or charities to promote various products (Kids' activity days, singing lessons, etc.)

It's a great PR story, since kids-today-don't-have-any-values is always a story people who aren't kids love to hear.
posted by Wylla at 3:02 PM on April 26, 2012

Greycap - that poll of (under) 10 year olds is the 2006 story I just linked - wasn't quick enough on the preview.
posted by Wylla at 3:03 PM on April 26, 2012

I recently attended a conference that was geared mainly for college kids who wanted to get into journalism and television production. The keynote speaker was Martin Bashir, a journalist who is admittedly on the flashy side of things (including famous interviews with Princess Diana and Michael Jackson), and the core theme of his speech was, "Kids: don't do this if all you want to do is be on TV. It's a horrible reason to grt into journalism and you will br hollowed out and disappointed and ground down. You need to be driven by some sense of ideals. You have to want to dig for a story, to hustle for detail and to be willing to go to boring unexciting places to find the real facts that make the truth come alive. That's why we do this. Not to 'be on TV.' Any questions?"

And the first three questions from the audience, hand to god, were literally "Mr Bashir, how do I get on TV?"

As a former television journalist, I've heard something like what you wrote mentioned a lot and don't know where it originated from or which curmudgeon it's attributed to. Certainly I think there are many tremendously driven and idealistic young people everywhere. But I have certainly seen, not infrequently, an attitude in "televison and broadcasting" students I have mentored or advosed who are very definite in their desire to have a brand and presence on-screen and in the media, but have no real preference for how, and express an equal desire to be on The Apprentice, as a sportscaster, and as Kim Kardashian.

Which reminds me of a conversation I heard on the subway a few weeks ago, where two young girls were talking, and one was incredulous hat her friend had never heard of Kim. "You know her! She's like super famous!" she said. Her friend was puzzled. "But what does she DO?". The first girl was silent for a minute as she thought about how to explain Kim Kardashian, finally settling on "She has a lot of really nice clothes."

Whereupon here friend brightened and said "Oh her! I love her!"
posted by sestaaak at 6:29 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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