We talk in my classes how our culture of total access to social media and mass communication makes it relatively easy for people to become famous overnight...and the results are not always pretty. This is from June 7, 2009.
Has anyone risen from obscurity to fame more quickly than Susan Boyle? I can't tell you how many people forwarded clips of her singing performance on Britain's Got Talent, the English equivalent of American Idol, to me. Yesterday, on the McLaughlin Report, it was stated that YouTube hits on her appearances were in the 100 million range! She finished second in the competition but the story continues. The day after the winning act was announced, Susan was hospitalized for extreme exhaustion. A producer spoke to her in the hospital and reported Susan alternated tears with anger. The sentiment of those close to the situation is she simply was not prepared for the instantaneous fame and media scrutiny as her incredible tale unfolded. Forty eight and considered plain, Susan spent her life in a small town, unnoticed. In a heartbeat, her name and face became recognizable worldwide in the age of the Internet. Opinions differ on her chances of a career in the spotlight but many feel a connection with a voice whose appearance doesn't match the stereotypes which insure commercial success. I hope she makes it.
Sometimes, I ask my students if they'd like to be famous- most say yes. I point out the difficulties of being Michael Jordan or Beyonce'... and they became famous gradually. In our culture, there is no privacy for the famous. Yesterday, in the line at WAL-MART, I saw five tabloids with the Jon And Kate Plus 8 parents splashed across the cover. Apparently, one or both are suspected of affairs. For the uninformed- which would include me- Jon and Kate Gosselin are the parents of young twins and sextuplets and whose lives are documented in a hugely successful reality show. They must be well compensated to exchange their privacy, and their kids', for the chance to be in the public eye. Their eight children, in my opinion, have very little chance to lead a normal life, especially in the near future. So goes life in a fishbowl.
How would we respond if fame were thrust upon us? As I read Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur's in depth look at the apostles, I wonder if they got caught up in their own importance. In their previous lives, they might have been considered nobodies, at least in religious circles. Plucked, for the most part, from Galilee, they emerged on the public stage as the Lord chose them for His inner circle. As His following increased, it could have been natural for His men to feel superior to the crowds. Maybe that was the background to their banning the children brought to Jesus for blessings. The Twelve had a running argument to assess who was number one. MacArthur calls the apostles, "self-absorbed, self-centered, self-promoting, and proud." There is no evidence that they were of this disposition in their pre-apostle days: it could have been the attention from being with Jesus that made it blossom. MacArthur contends Jesus picked them anyway because, as Paul quotes the Lord in 2 Corinthians 12:9, ''My power is made perfect in weakness." They would stumble and desert Jesus temporarily but look what they did in the years after the Ascension- they took the gospel to the entire known world. Do you know what the first song I teach students when they enter my classroom? The Twelve Apostles. (You know- 'Jesus called them one-by-one. Peter, Andrew, James, and John. etc.') I don't think my rendition would win Britain's Got Talent but that's OK- I don't know if I could handle the attention!
Applicable quote of the day:
" I don't think I realized that the cost of fame is that it's open season on every moment of your life.”
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