Wednesday, July 11, 2007

They are JUST people, same as you and me...

Celebrities, Who Cares?

I’ve had it with “them,” and I’ve especially had it with the pundits who report on their every move while practically gushing all over them. And what about the suckers who swallow all the pap as it’s fed to them whilst clamoring for more? I think of them this way: if there were no “users” there would be no “suppliers” and “pushers.”

For all you “users,” why do you do it? Is your own life not interesting enough that you must suck the marrow from someone else’s? Are you not ashamed? I hate to use this cliché, but get your own life.

Every time I see footage of paparazzi clambering bodily all over each other while snapping their shutters at sports and movie stars, or at “stars of the moment,” I feel disgust; not only for the photographers, but also for the people who pay to see their rubbish; and you know who you are.

For consumers, the “users” of this nonsense, you suffer from a bad habit, like looking at pornography or smoking; so stop it; you should stop buying it; stop looking at it, and you should stop turning the channel to find it.

When I was 14 or 15, my father and I were playing a late afternoon round of golf at a public links course in Central Michigan. Some country music star, whose name I am no longer sure of (maybe it was Earl Scruggs?), was out by himself on the course with us. During our game, this famous performer was on a tee box only a rock’s throw away. My father discretely pointed him out to me with a slight nod of his head and a whisper. My natural kid’s reaction was to stare and remark aloud, but my father quickly shushed me and instructed me adamantly NOT to stare. It wasn’t polite and bordered on being disrespectful he told me. My dad realized that the man probably didn’t want to be disturbed and I learned that day to respect that wish for everyone, even and especially for celebrities. It might be a very old-fashioned and American Midwest attitude, but it made sense to me then as a kid and continues to make sense to me even more today.

I suppose if we hadn’t been on the golf course and my dad saw Mr. Scruggs in passing he might have politely said hello to him. But my midwestern father would never force himself on anyone, and why would he? How many stories have you heard of celebrities being interrupted for an autograph, or a photograph, during a meal in a restaurant, or while trying to enjoy the view on a beach? I don’t buy the argument that a star or a public figure sacrifices their personal life once they “make it.” That is pure rationalization; it’s nothing more than justification for bad behavior.

Late in 1975 my parents came to the Tri-City Airport at Midland Michigan to pick me up after I had just earned my Eagle-Globe-and-Anchor with the Marines. My mom told me that Jim Stafford, a successful pop singer at the time, was waiting for his flight out of town. In spite of myself I thought I’d go see, kind of like a covert recon mission. Sure enough, he sat alone in a large waiting room; it was just him in a sea of rows of seats. I could have gone up to him and announced myself as a fan, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. He seemed relaxed and I just did not want to bother him; it just didn’t seem right. He saw me in my green Marine class-A’s and nodded at me smiling. Feeling foolish, I grinned back, gave him a wave and a thumbs up, spun around and left him alone. That was the only time I’ve ever done anything like it, and it confirmed for me the rightness of leaving so-called famous people alone.

I once served in the Air Force with the son of a famous major league baseball pitcher, Sal Maglie. Joe Maglie, Sal’s adopted son, told me that he had met or been around pretty much every major leaguer of note from before the 70s. I asked him what they were like. I named one huge player after another, seeking to know if he had met them—Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Al Kaline, and on and on. Yep, he’d met them all; either in locker rooms while his dad was coaching and managing or at dozens of reunions. I asked him what they were like. His answer was intriguing.

“Man, let me tell you something. For the most part, those guys are boring. All they know is baseball, so it’s all they talk about. They are not interesting to talk to UNLESS you want to talk about baseball. They aren’t even all that intelligent. What do you expect? For the most part, they’ve limited themselves to baseball their whole life. Phil, I find people like you a hell of a lot more interesting than most any big league baseball player. You’ve lived all over the world and you’ve done things the average major leaguer cannot even conceive of. They are nothing special man. They’re just ball players.”

Joe was right. We give these people way more attention than they deserve, and presumably more than they want. When is society going to get a collective conscience and leave these people and their immediate families alone?

If you must, go watch their movies, or watch them play their games; but for heaven’s sake, find a new hobby or pastime. As Joe said, “these people are nothing special,” no more so than any human being.

Common courtesy and standards of decency demand that we leave them alone. Can you find it within yourself to grasp that notion? They are just people like you and me. Get it?


Anonymous said...

You reminded me of my experience with an actor…and later meeting the richest man in the world.

1. My father was in the Coast Guard and stationed on the CGC Taney (the Taney was in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack). My mom and I would be at the docks with another man John who was the father of one of my fathers shipmates. I used to fetch coffee for John Wayne and my mother. To me he was just another person and I enjoyed getting coffee for him.
2. My second experience was when I had been home on leave and a man named Sam was over for dinner. I liked the man and we had some long talks. He wore ordinary coveralls and nothing fancy. When he left he took off in his dilapidated pickup truck. After he left my mom asked me if I knew who this man was. I said yes, he is Sam. My mom said you are correct. He was Sam Walton and he is the richest man in the world. His combined wealth was much larger then what Bill Gates or anyone else had. He is long dead now but if he were alive he would still be the richest man in the world. If you the combine the wealth that was divided after death to his wife, sibling, and children. All of these people are in the top ten of the worlds richest people. But you could not tell it by the way he was dressed or the vehicle he drove. Sam was just a good friend of my parents.

My Uncle Johnny worked with Sam Walton in a local drug store. Sam asked him if he wanted to invest with him. Sam had this idea of creating a chain of stores. My uncle never made that investment. To bad, Sam Walton ended up creating the WalMart chain. And that I guess is the rest of the story....

PhilippinesPhil said...

Wow, you back up my point in a rather dramatic fashion... Good stuff...

Anonymous said...

The Walton family is no longer in the top ten. They are however still in the top 20.
Bill Gates 56 Billion
Jim Walton 16.8 Billion
Christy Walton 16.7 Billion
S Robson Walton 16.7 Billion
Alice Walton 16.6 Billion
Helen Walton 16.4 Billion
Total Walton wealth 83.2 Billion
It is hard to know what Sam Walton would have had at this point. I am sure it would be much more then 83 Billion. Inheritance tax is very high and splitting Sam Walton’s wealth five ways lowers each persons amount. All five who inherited his money are still in Forbes list of the twenty richest persons in the world.

I would like to comment that people who inherit do not normally do as wealth with the money like those who are self made. WalMart has changed a lot since Sam Walton died. It is hard to understand the value of money when it is thrown at you.

My parents took care of Sam Waltons dogs. They washed and groomed and kenneled them on request. I met him that one night for dinner. He never talked of wealth and I never knew who he really was until he had driven away that night. That was an advantage he had when he visited one of his stores. I liked the old WalMart when Sam was still alive. There was always a greeter at the door and someone to ask you what you wanted. That person never told you were the item was that you wanted. They always took you there and then asked if you wanted more. And I remember the sign at the registers. I’m rusty but it was something like; “It is our policy to never have more then three customers in line at any given time. We will always open more registers to make sure this never happens.” And if you looked you would see more then twenty registers sitting side by side. When customer count was low the employees had alternate jobs, like asking customers what they wanted.

This WalMart fever spread every where. Do you know that McDonalds has a maximum 60 second queue time? It is there policy that no customer shall ever wait longer then 60 seconds. That policy is in effect here in the Philippines. However is is never enforced. Next time you have to wait more then 60 seconds ask for the manager and ask that person what is their queue time. They will tell you it is 60 seconds and apologize even if you had to wait ten or more minutes. In the US they would give you free certificates for your next meal. Here they just apologize and expect you to understand. There is no computation like WalMart here, so there is no driving force to speed up customers waiting.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Nice long comment James, quite lengthy but interesting. When you going to start up your own Blog so we can read your stuff my friend....?

KA said...

celebrities....who cares? Celebrities are just people who insist to everyone that they're important. I like Lea Salonga. She lets her fans advertise her - which is how it should be.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Hmmmm. I believe I detect a little Lea worship...

KA said...

Haha, yes, indeed. Worship? Possibly. Respect? Definitely. I respect her for who she is... not for her singing. Back in my teens, I used to go ga-ga for some celebrities (I was a lemming...). Then I went to a military school where i had no tv, and no time for such frivolity. When I graduated, I found Lea Salonga's blog (via my cousin who's still in Calatagan) and that was when I really began to admire her.

Ed said...

Excellent blog post. I don't have any real good celebrity stories. I did ride in a limo with Charleston Heston once but he mostly just ignored us the entire five minutes. The only celebreties that I have known and talked to are some roadies for ZZTop who own land next to some land my parents own in Arkansas. However like I said, neither story is very interesting.

PhilippinesPhil said...

And that's my point, these people are no more interesting than anyone else. And roadies? Well, they certainly are NOT celebs! I helped set up and take down the stage and props for Alice Cooper about 7 years ago and his roadies were asses. He didn't impress me either, full of himself just as you'd expect... Kristin Chenoweth was nice though; I wrote a post last year about my encounter with her at LA International in 2001.

Amadeo said...

I have had my share of celebrity "contacts" having worked in the No. 1 hotel in San Francisco fronting Union Square. One wanted to punch me, and another had it known who he was and thus, reason enough for him not to respect the line.

From my experiences, I can say that some celebrities do not want to be left alone. They crave the attention and use their status to get above the heads of regular folks.

Now, the attention given by those papazzaris are an altogether different thing - that's business. Pics they can sell, and the more compromising the better.

But this one is unforgettable for me, involving Ms. Jane Fonda and then current husband, Assemblyman Tom Hayden. It was late at night at the front desk, though the huge lobby was still filled with people. Stationed at the front desk on a house full night, our skeleton crew was trying hard to accommodate everybody. One man with a smaller lady in pants behind approached my station. His suit look disheveled and his face a bit pockmarked. That first impression told me he was a stranger. He was asking for the keys to a suite that was registered to Ms. Jane Fonda. Being very careful about giving out keys especially to big important people, I was ready to sternly ask for proper IDs, until slowly the girl behind sidled up close to the guy. That's when I recognize that the girl behind was Ms. Fonda and realized the man was her husband. Imagine what the reaction would have been had I insisted on IDs!

PhilippinesPhil said...

If they crave attention, then they'd hate a world full of "me's," because they sure wouldn't get any from "us!"

"Hanoi Jane" WOULD get some from me though, all negative--treasonous wench.