I had this whole thing written down about celebrity culture and moral superiority and an outraged zeitgeist—all springing, by the way, from a morning radio show discussion about whether or not it’s stupid to have opinions concerning Tiger Woods—but my mitosis-emulating little mind kept subdividing one topic into many topics, and again and again, and all the little topics kept growing and growing into massive paragraphs, like wow, can open; worms everywhere. Which, I suppose, pretty well describes Tiger’s thoughts on the situation, too.
Turns out, though, that it takes quite a few too many words (and much mental energy) to draw a connection between Tiger Woods and the original impetus for this topic, CCB’s 21-year-old cousin, a relatively upstanding young man who’s currently riding his 96 mph fastball through the Atlanta Braves spring season, mere months (if not weeks) away from his first Major League contract. Fastball’s parents crashed at our place this weekend, and of course the giddiness at all this success and attention is totally contagious.
Of course, as far as the actual Cheetah clan goes, the excitement over Fastball’s success is more about family than celebrity proximity. But separate of all that, in my little world, this sports fame stuff is right up my alley. I mean, I could make fun of the whole celebrity-worship thing, people losing all composure over whateverthehell Twilight actor just passed them on the freeway. But then, I almost cried when I saw Joe Montana. Through a window. One building over.
We experience these things from all different angles, often depending on the celebrity in question, how easily we can draw a connection to them, and how much we care versus how much other people might care. My sisters and I grew up too aware that our parents were close with some minor celebs—ex-Asolo residents like Paul Reubens and Polly Holiday and three dozen Law & Order guest stars. And CCB’s mom is already a nationally published author many many many times over. I’m well practiced with the whole play-it-cool, celebrities-are-just-regular-people thing. Plus, I’m well aware of how little people care when you’re a step or more removed from someone famous. You learn that lesson early on when your parents know Pee-Wee Herman and no one in your third grade class will worship you for it.
Fastball’s getting a kick out of this, too. Though his celebrity status is ever growing, right now he’s also big-time just for being close enough to refer to Bobby Cox as just “Bobby” and to stress that Chipper Jones and Melky Cabrera are “just regular people.” Not that I’m implying he’s being insincere; locker rooms tend to strip away all the pre-existing idolatry (just ask me about Martina Navratilova, heh). And he’s not wrong, either; everyone’s got their own day-to-day crap to work around, even Billy Wagner. It’s just, there’s a decent amount of people who’d be at a loss for words meeting these sports stars face-to-face.
It’s funny that, for all we covet this celebrity stuff, as soon as we get it, we insist it’s not really there at all.
I don’t know what I’m getting at, exactly. I do know that every time some big celebrity gossip hits the news, there’s a vocal number of people asking why on earth we care. I tend to think that question too easily becomes some pretty obnoxious moral superiority one-upmanship, but I don’t really have an answer for it. My uncle once had a quiet little fit in a Manhattan restaurant when my aunt wanted to take a picture of Mel Brooks and Alan Alda having dinner at the next table. Is it worth it to snap the photo and say you were there if it means testifying to being an occasional worshipper at the church of fame?
Do we want other people to be impressed that we’re celebrity proximal? Do we want famous people to be impressed with us? I think, like any other human relationship, your opinion of people you’ve never met before is going to vary from person to person, depending on any number of things. Even in the real world, you may like the charismatic guy with all the friends, or you may think he’s a jackass. You may think an articulate, talented hard-worker deserves a second chance, or you may think “multiple infidelities” are not part of holding someone to an unfairly high standard. Or you might be bored of the whole thing. But what about the people you are interested in? Who do you want to meet?
I can’t predict how I’m going to act when I encounter someone famous. I can say I don’t care, but my dry mouth might give me away. We’ll see what happens when we head to the Braves game at McKechnie Field on Thursday. I might be, despite myself, telling the people around me about how my boyfriend’s first cousin on his mother’s side is totally rocking the high heat. Or I might be cool about it.