The notion of celebrity is one of the great puzzles of modern life. Showing interest in the details of someone’s life because they display incredible talent or have the good fortune to achieve something special is understandable - to a certain extent - but we pursue our curiosity beyond all measure for how we define rationality. We have, literally, people within our culture who have accomplished very little and somehow became famous simply for being made famous.

Turn on the television, open a newspaper, listen to the radio, and you are faced with entire programs detailing the twists and turns, quirks and calamities of celebrity lives. Why are we so enthralled? Some of these people wallow in our attention while others try and hide from it but it doesn’t appear to matter either way. We simply must know what is happening in their world.

I understand “greatness” but even then it’s vague. We have exceptional artists and athletes who astound us with their abilities - and leaders whether political or cultural who impact on our lives, for better or worse - so how they think and react to situations can be of interest. But so many of our celebrities are simply family members of another celebrity, or people who have amassed great wealth as a by product of some obsession or single minded drive. Then comes the beautiful, female or male, who we must follow to see if they are living the beautiful life. Undoubtedly they have a story worth telling but, then, who doesn't. Every one of us lives a unique life. As Andy Warhol suggested we all contain 15 minutes of fame within us. Perhaps that explains why we have celebrity failures as well - people who are famous for not winning anything or for falling short of their goals.



Similar or, perhaps, in tune with this obsession, is the concept of being an extreme "fan". Why do we root for a particular team? We seldom can relate to, or identify with, any of the players. They are so far removed from most of us they are more like fantasy individuals. We are spoon fed the hype by those who sell the sport or it's products and, again, we manage to create a connection where none really exists. And, the connection becomes so strong we mob them in public, reaching out to touch them when they go by as if the mere touch will create a transfer of greatness, and - when given the rare opportunity to ask one a question - we ask them for answers which bear no relation to their sport or training - as if they have special insights into all aspects of life. It is simply strange, but it's so widespread as to be universal. Where do we get this great need for uber people? What is this thing deep within us that requires us to have god-like individuals acting as our cultural and political leaders?

We seem to put people on a pedestal who can create any kind of emotional response within us. This is what artists of every kind do and some are amazingly good at it. Whether we laugh or cry or become angry or excited, the response is the issue and we heap praise and concern on those capable of creating that response. It’s like they become part of us by practicing their art so well. Entertainers of all kinds have this capability and we wish them success as a result – unless they prove to be too fallible - or worse yet, bland. Then we become disappointed and angry with them. Eventually all turn out to be human and fallible because everyone is - except by then we are hooked and it doesn't matter.



Real heroes do exist. I have heroes - people I greatly admire for their achievements. Few of them, I must say, are actors or athletes, and even fewer are politicians. Politicians in this day and age are too hard to trust in my opinion. I believe that In the course of gathering support for their elections they make so many commitments, sometimes at odds with each other, that keeping them would be impossible. In other words they learn the value and skill of being a very good liar and how can you trust someone like that. I don't know if the problem is systemic or traditional or both but I have a sneaking suspicion that those with real integrity bail out early in the process. In the case of actors their persona is so intertwined with their major roles it's difficult to delineate between them, perhaps even for them. My heroes are people who achieve more than they were expected to because of their persistence and desire to reach a particular goal, usually a goal to help other people. Terry Fox is one of my heroes.