When will these 15 minutes end?
February 8, 2007 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Are there any substantive critical analyses of fame written from the inside?

I am looking for recommendations of smart, acerbic accounts of the madness of fame. Ideally, this would be written by an actual celebrity, as opposed to some sort of observer. What I'm looking for is not merely a description of the inconvenience of being recognized, being followed by paparazzi, etc. Instead, I'm interested in reading someone who has a keen sense of the contradictions that result from a person becoming a product, in a way, with photographs, TV, and/or cinematic images of them proliferating everywhere. An insightful take on the surreality of the experience, I guess.
posted by umbú to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
It's mostly biography/"before", but there's a bit about this in Marilyn Manson's autobiography.

He definitely qualifies as a person becoming a product, etc, but I'm not sure if it goes as in depth as you're looking for.
posted by twiggy at 8:24 PM on February 8, 2007

Richard E Grant's With Nails touches upon this, a little.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:44 PM on February 8, 2007

This isn't quite what you're looking for, but Neil Strauss's "The Game" is a step towards that direction.
posted by unexpected at 9:04 PM on February 8, 2007

The Streets (Mike Skinner). He is hardly an academic -- he's a rapper -- but he is certainly a trenchant observer of his world. His site. His Myspace.

'Hip hop,' he explains, 'draws on different principles to other music. It's not purely sonic pleasure: it's conflict and action and story. It's the old way of making records - which is rhythm and noise - combined with a little bit of The A-Team, and that's exactly what I love about it ... The problem is, it tends to hit a brick wall with the second album. When you listen to 50 Cent, you're hearing a guy who you imagine goes around getting shot, and he doesn't, really - well, he did, but now he's doing pretty much the same as I am: being interviewed, collecting awards, going to parties. And the big question is, how to hang on to that excitement you had before becoming successful, without pretending you're still doing things you're actually not?'

Well, there is prang, and sleeping with TV show hosts.
posted by Methylviolet at 9:06 PM on February 8, 2007

Quentin Crisp. It was either How to Have a Lifestyle or How to Become a Virgin that dealt with the topic of his fame, but everything I've read by him is entertaining as hell. Also, you might want to check out Cintra Wilson.
posted by runtina at 9:08 PM on February 8, 2007

I remember Bob Geldof's autobiography, "Is That All There Is?" being quite good on the subject, but it's a dim memory.

One of my favourite books about (rock star) fame is Iain Banks' fictional "Espedair Street", and he used to live next door to Geldof so I imagine he based quite a bit of it on Bob.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:29 PM on February 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) mentions this a lot. I don't have a recommendation for a long piece specifically on the subject, but it's mentioned in passing, for example, here.
posted by textilephile at 3:10 AM on February 9, 2007

So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star is a pretty good book on the subject by the drummer from Semisonic. He's definitely smart enough to see how weird fame is from the inside. Stuff like how surreal it is to suddenly end up on the Tonight Show.
posted by smackfu at 9:31 AM on February 9, 2007

jamie lee curtis posed in "more magazine" without airbrushing- there wasn't tons of in-depth critical discourse about it, but there were some good soundbites.
i thought that was a pretty good example of a "picture-says-a-thousand-words" comment on the fame machine.
posted by twistofrhyme at 9:42 AM on February 9, 2007

It's fiction, but Don Delillo's Great Jones Street is narrated by a Dylan-esque rockstar holing up in his apartment while contemplating the implications of his fame:

"Fame requires every kind of excess. I mean true fame, a devouring neon, not the somber renown of waning statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the edge of every void, the circumstance of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic."
posted by EL-O-ESS at 9:44 AM on February 9, 2007

Simon Gray's Fat Chance is about the time Stephen Fry abruptly bailed on a play Gray was directing and ran away to Belgium. Lots about dealing with the press coverage and the like. Arguably Gray isn't the famous one here, but he's close enough to have the sort of insights you are looking for.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:45 AM on February 9, 2007

Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins: The Autobiography by Rupert Everett.

“There is a bit of the adored boy prince about Everett and he shines brightest when he is being admired. Yet he says that he is disillusioned with fame, fortune and Hollywood. He has never been to the Oscars. 'I can't think of anything worse. It is five hours long and so boring and self-congratulatory. That is what Hollywood is about these days.'

After insulting the place so magnificently, he insists that he does not want the parts anyway. 'I just don't want to do tired old romantic comedies or a gay third role who screams at Meryl Streep or something. It seems like a waste of time.

'It is a weird business,' he sighs. 'There is no such thing as talent — talent is whatever everyone else thinks that day. Madonna is a case in point: she is considered talentless as an actress, but she is no better or worse than tons of old slags who share out the work because everyone decided they are good.'

Everett is sharp enough to see the comic discrepancy between his romantic ideal of acting and the reality of it. 'When I was a kid I thought it was an actor's duty to live dramatically. It was a total mistake. Then I found the real world of acting was provincial, rule-obsessed, bureaucratic, snide."*
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2007

Response by poster: These are all great ideas. Thanks for posting your comments!

Following EL-O-ESS's lead, if there are any other good examples in fiction, please share them as well.
posted by umbú at 8:06 PM on February 9, 2007

« Older Questions about poetry.   |   What to get a younger guy I don't know well as a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.