Celebrity and Reality
By Freddy S. Zalta
I am walking through Union Square Park on a beautiful day – this 26th day of May of 2011. Today there are vendors sitting on chairs – their merchandise on display to the side of them. One older man, who resembles Ernest Hemingway, is stroking his goatee while reading a book and lighting a cigarette. He has come here to sell something called, “Gently Pre-owned Teddy Bears.” I don’t know what that means and I don’t even want to find out.
I keep walking as a light breeze hits me. There are storms all around the country these days but this breeze is gently caressing my bare arms as if prodding me to relax – whispering, “you are not alone and love is all around.” I am shaking a bit because of a phone call that I just received and I am walking to try to calm down and to get my mind off of it.
I keep on walking and I notice Audrey Hepburn is staring at me as she is leaning on a wall – sad look of an angel. I remember the first time I watched “Roman Holiday” and how quickly I fell in love with her. A princess to the core – you can sense the elegance within her when she smiled. She possessed an innocence and purity that can only be seen within the newly born or the freshly fallen snow. I fell in love (not so innocently) but alas she was untouchable and much older then she was on that 17-inch screen. I bought posters of her and some pictures – put them up in my room and dreamed of being Gregory Peck. Dancing under the stars, riding on a Vespa through the streets of Rome and even watching her sleeping or being arrested alongside her.
My daughter has a crush on Justin Beiber – she is a 10-year-old “teenager” and has pictures of him on her walls, T-shirts, backpack and anything she owns. She has even changed her last name (not legally of course) to Beiber.
She showed me a video of a little girl stating how much she loved JB and then the actual JB showed up to give her a hug and a kiss. The kid screamed and was in awe of the 17 year old. When I mentioned to her that its crazy how people will wait on line for hours to see famous person she asked me, “What if it was Bob Dylan? Wouldn’t you want to meet him?” My answer was “If I meet him face to face out of circumstance that would be great – but I was sure how I perceive him to be and who he truly was would have nothing to do with who he is in reality.”
She said, “OK” but I think I lost her at the word, “If.”
The magic of celebrity for us “mortal people” is the ability to create a person who we would want to be or to be with. We don’t imagine their flaws or scars – be it physical, moral or of a psychological nature. We only see them as we ourselves choose to see them. Or imagine them based on what we are lacking or needing in our lives. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry this documented invasion of privacy of these people.. It’s all there in blazing colored photographs and videos for all to see.
So what’s with this fascination? It’s the success – it’s the fact that they chose to follow their dreams, were given a chance to succeed and succeeded. What I think my fascination with Audrey and my daughters with Justin is the fact that we will never see them for who they really are. We wont see the scars or experience first hand their morals or behavior. We get to see them in a photo or watch them at what they do best – and they never have to see us as the imperfect mortals that we are – so the chances of being hurt by them are virtually non-existent.
I know that if I met Bob Dylan I would probably be disappointed. I would rather keep my vision of him as an artist then to distort it with the vision of him as a human being.
Now Jennifer Lopez…