On Fame and Celebrity (Mostly the Crafty, Internet Kind)

16 Apr 2012

Image by Roadsidepictures, via Flickr

I've been trying to write this post for nearly four years. It's difficult and complicated to say what I want to say, in a way that doesn't sound any of the ways I fear it will sound. I'm grateful to Tara, Elizabeth and K for their feedback and suggestions.

Even the reasons why I want to write about this subject are complicated and hard to articulate. Here's the thing: I've been a member and a watcher of the online crafty community for nearly seven years now. I've seen crafty celebrities come and go, and I've watched some interesting new breeds of celebrity form in the internet age.

For the most part, I don't think fame or celebrity are necessarily bad things (more on that in a moment). But as I've watched the crafty community grow and evolve online, I've also watched this idea of "crafty celebrities" engender not-so-great things like envy, assumptions and judgements without information. I think these not-so-kind responses to celebrity happen largely because of outdated mindsets. And I think that some powerful new ideas are emerging about celebrity now.

So here, for better or worse, is what I've been thinking about. I hope we can have a nice, productive discussion of this subject in the comments.

Superhero, Norwescon 30

Image by djwudi, via Flickr

We (Apparently) Need Our Celebrities

Here's what's interesting to me: we humans create celebrities everywhere. Every special interest community has its own celebrities: cooking nerds have folks like Ina Garten and Jamie Oliver. Video gamers have Billy Mitchell. Photographers have Ansel Adams. We even create celebrities in our local communities – like here in Portland, we have Storm Large. There are always people (and, in our online community's case, bloggers) whose names we say with a special significance in our voices.

It used to be that we all knew of mostly the same celebrities, because the mainstream media used to tell us who was and was not famous. But then the web gave us the ability to share our own stories, and then we splintered into a million niches, and each one evolved its own celebrities.

What, exactly IS this kind of niche celebrity, then? I think that, at best, it's basically a public declaration of admiration: "I think what you do is amazing, and far beyond what I think I can do." I think we need our celebrities because they can create positive standards that help us keep striving to learn and grow and get better at whatever it is we do. Elizabeth suggested to me that what we're really creating here isn't so much celebrities as heroes, and I like that distinction.

[rolls eyes] DRAMAAAA!!!

Image by CAA Photography, via Flickr

Ambivalence About Celebrities

So, when we're in a good frame of mind, our celebrities can give us targets to aspire to. But we're human, so we don't always stay in that good frame of mind. In a bad frame of mind, sadly, our celebrities can make us feel smaller and less-interesting and less worthy. (Notice: the celebrity hasn't done anything different. Only our minds have.)

To pull an example from our community, let's think about that fabled "perfection veneer" of many crafty blogs. On a good day, these blogs transport you do a prettier, more organized world, and you think the blogger is amazing and inspiring. On a bad day, they can make you feel horrid for having piles of laundry and dirty dishes, and you think the blogger must be some kind of stuck-up jerk.

…Given that we may have never met this blogger, or have any reliable window into her life, these careening judgements seem a bit unfounded, don't they? I have a theory on why we yo-yo between these two extremes. It's because essentially, our world contains two different kinds of celebrities:

  • People we've made into personal celebrities because we value the things they've done
  • People we've been told are celebrities by someone else.

Red carpet.

Image by stevelyon, via Flickr

When We Let the Media Make Our Celebrities

Celebrity goes wrong, I think, when we get too passive about it and let other people tell us who we should be paying attention to. And frankly, it's hard not to let other people tell us who the celebrities are – mainstream media constantly capitalizes on celebrity to sell newspapers/magazines/ad slots/anything else you can imagine.

The problem with that is, we get fed a steady stream of people we did not choose as celebrities. The danger happens when we accept their celebrity at face value without checking to see whether, all things being equal, we would really find them significant to us. Because we didn't take an active role in making them celebrities, we're far more likely to have those backlash feelings – and perhaps we feel safer about doing it? (One word: Kardashian.)

Closer to home, I see this kind of thing going on with mainstream craft media all the time. I regularly get press releases that babble about "the hottest crafters and the coolest projects," or that tout one crafter or another as being a "crafty superstar," "crafty powerhouse," or "famous crafter." (Sigh. Press release language.) If I listen to the mainstream craft media, I'm presented with a whole range of celebrities, and expected to assume that they're worthy of my admiration.

It's this mainstream media capitalization on fame that leads, I think, to many of us taking what are, at the end of the day, fellow human beings, and treating them like commodities.

Adoring Fans

Image by RobW, via Flickr

Celebrity is Now a Personal Thing

Ok, so all of that said, let's not get too gloomy about celebrity, because as it turns out, the internet age can make celebrity exciting again. The web can free us once and for all from imposed mass-media celebrity, if we'll only let it. We each get to make our own personal "pantheon" of people who are significant to us, and we get to decide why they're significant.

Let me rephrase that in very pointed language: nobody – no magazine, no website, no TV show – has the authority to tell you who's worthy of your attention. Create all the heroes you want, but do it because they're super good at something that's important to you. Use your celebrities as positive, motivating role models, not as reasons to feel bad.

You get to decide how important fame and famous people are to you - and incidentally, you are equally wonderful with or without them.

Whew! I may need to lie down now. But I would love to hear what you think. Why do people become celebrities to you? Do you ever find yourself feeling abivalent about celebrities? How much do you tend to listen when the mainstream media annoints someone as a "celebrity crafter?"


Thanks, sistah Diane, this is a great topic!
I’ve had alot of roles in my life, on both sides of the “celebrity” equation, but always with lots of creativity involved. As a so-called “celeb” I have experienced, at the same event, attendees telling me that my event was “the best one (of that kind) in their lives” and others who said “I hate you, you are so creative!” That’s verbatim, and it is staggering to consider the number of times I’ve heard that. (Never, I’m sure, from the type of folks in this audience, though!)
But neither comment had much to do with me...the folks who experienced my presentation as “the best” were the ones who were willling to be open to the best experience, and the ones who “hated” me, really hated themselves for not living up to the creative potential that they desired. They often followed up by saying, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” To which I always reply, “Well you can take my test of creativity to find out for sure.”
They are usually curious, and I explain: “Take a pocket mirror, put it up to your mouth - if it fogs up, you are creative!”
It’s a cute sound byte, but it sticks in people’s minds. And women, especially, who are often so involved in the kinds of magnificently creative things that our society cloaks in “invisibility,” need to be reminded. Running a household and/or business, and/or raising kids and getting them all to ballet and soccer practice, these roles that often fall to women require at least as much creativity as painting the Sistine ceiling, probably more, and with less tangible results. I've done both. And while I get the kudos for the display of artsy stuff, I know how much creativity just negotiating life requires.
So the first thing to do, I think, is to give ourselves (and others) some appreciation for the “invisible” creative expression in our lives.
Once we appreciate it, we feel better, and that starts to mushroom into additional creativiy in other parts of life.
The more we appreciate ourselves, the less we need “celebrities,” although I think we can always benefit from role models who provide a concrete vision of where we want to go, such as in the example of the 4-minute mile.
I think the thing I like best about the internet is that it levels the playing field. There’s much more opportunity for a brilliant “nobody” (ie non-celebrity) to be seen and followed than back in the day when getting seen and heard required efforts akin to scaling a mountain. And we all benefit from tightening up the “degrees of separation.”
Great topic!

This is such a great idea, Meryl Ann: "the ones who 'hated' me, really hated themselves for not living up to the creative potential that they desired."

BING. Absolutely. I think there's a lot of self- um... disapproval, I guess, in the way we react to celebrities. You really hit upon it - it's not quite as simple as jealousy. It's more that, when we look at a celebrity's achievements, we can see shadows of what we might have achieved, and we're mad that we didn't get there ourselves. I think that often, we assume that the celeb was "chosen" over us, but in most cases, the reality is that we didn't even place ourselves in the running. And we kick ourselves for that, but still feel intimidated about actually taking those steps. It's sometimes a much more comfortable outlet to simply hate the celebrity than it is to face our fears.

...And I agree, the web really does level the playing field. I love that more of us have a shot at connecting with that small core of people who really "get" what we're about. That's ultimately a way more satisfying idea to me than the idea of scores of admirers.

I think this would make a super excellent topic for a blog post! There's been a few news articles making the rounds lately about introverts and their strengths/weaknesses and people seem to really get into discussing the whole thing. Coming from the other side of the coin, I would be one of those people at an event surprised someone isn't as chatty in person as online because I'm an extrovert. I would love to read about your and MJB's experiences in this so I could see the events/feelings through your eyes. Based on what I've read, it seems like a lot more of the crafty people online are introverts than not, so it would be a really interesting discussion and facilitate more understanding, I think.

That's an interesting perspective, Elizabeth! My experience is more that I'm hesitant to even approach someone to talk to them, but then I want to connect right away!

Heh! Amen - I am incapable of small talk. I want to talk about deep, important things right away. Another reason the craft-show environment is challenging.

This is a fascinating angle of the celebrity issue. I just finished a new book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Just Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. Introverts thrive online. They also tend to avoid all the things that celebrity status involves--with one exception. If it's necessary to advance something they believe in and are passionate about, they will put up with things like public speaking and self-promotion. An introverted crafty celebrity being envied for their time in the spotlight is highly ironic. Not that they don't appreciate the accolades and affirmation, but if there was another way to get the word out, they would usually choose the other way.

As an introvert, I'm curious about the extrovert experience in this online crafty community. I'm certain I have many misconceptions about their approach to creating and sharing their creations.

I've been wanting to read that one, too!

...And interestingly, Melissa, you're making me realize that I don't know too many people aside from Elizabeth in this community who describe themselves as extroverts. (Any other extro's want to chime in here?)

Hmmm... I wonder if this might be a podcast? Maybe interview several fellow introverts who do shows about what those experiences are like? Color me officially intrigued, Elizabeth, and thank you!

I wonder if this is part of the new/old media thing and fame being a much bigger commodity than if was before? Previously, there were much fewer celebrities and most did have better lives. Now, so many people are "known" and called celebrities, that maybe the same idea of wealth and luxury is still transferred?

I'd never thought of it that way, but that makes perfect sense!

Seriously - where does this assumption come from that the people we see as celebrities don't have to live "normal" lives anymore? Do we feel such dissatisfaction with our day-to-day that we automatically ascribe luxury to those we admire? I mean, I catch myself making the same assumption all the time, but it still baffles me.

I had an experience last summer where I walked into a yarn shop on vacation and when I introduced myself, people knew who I was and when they took me into the room where people were knitting, someone was working on one of my shawls. It was terribly exciting and the closest to a celebrity I've ever felt. The friend who was with me later made the distinction between people who are famous more broadly and people who are known to others in their particular milieu as celebrity versus expert. I like the idea of expert over celebrity, even if expert induces the anxiety of knowing how much there is yet to learn. I also liked the weird experience that I can walk into a yarn store not ten miles from my house and be completely unknown and walk into another one on the other side of the country and be recognized. It's not quite fame, and thank goodness, because fame is oppressive, but it's lovely to be recognized for doing something we love and try to do well. I wrote about the anxiety supposedly induced by craft blogs some years back, and it may be time to revisit the subject.

Boy, AMEN, Linda! Most days I feel thankful that I managed to get in the basic tasks, too. Every hour feels packed, and balance feels elusive.

Maybe that idea of "having it all together" feels elusive enough to us that we're always hoping to find someone else who has it figured out. (And thus are born entire industries, and many people are celebritized!)

I'm really glad you wrote this article. The subject is not something I worry about a lot for my own personal interests, but it is something I notice on a very regular basis - the whole idea of what a celebrity is. I def used to let the media lead me around a bit with that - but have found, esp in the last year or so, that the people that make me really really happy and excited are usually bloggers who write in a way that I find interesting, or who share something that I find of value. I agree that the idea of a "celebrity" (or "hero," or for me more accurately plain old "cool person" cause I generally don't use the terms celebrity or hero) has become (or even has been) very personal and individual and I totally LOVE that. And I really appreciate what you said about noticing that when our feelings change about a certain celebrity based on our own moods, that person has not changed - we have. Very insightful article. Thanks!

Thank you, Carol! I heard on a podcast someplace, several years back, someone say that the internet age has changed that old quote of Andy Warhol's, where "everybody will be famous for 15 minutes." With the web, this person said, everyone will be famous to 15 people. I love that idea!

Thanks, Diane, for your commentary on this subject. It's a precarious thing...because you are correct- companies try to tell us who the "craft celebrities" are and why we should purchase their branded products. But being engaged in the online crafty community is the best way to seek out fresh talent, learn new techniques, and "meet" our own craft heroes.

And you certainly are one of mine... (insert virtual hug here.)

:-) Big hug right back, Girl! I do like the idea of having heroes, for sure. I just wish PR folks wouldn't rely so heavily on the idea of celebrity to sell products. I think all this manufactured celebrity tends to be damaging to our community in the end.

I don't know how to phrase this more pleasantly, but sometimes I'm baffled by some of the people who become internet crafting celebrities because their work isn't as great as lesser known bloggers. The internet celebrity seems almost as arbitrary as the mainstream sort. It doesn't look to me like the internet has really changed celebrities except to make it easier for fans to connect with each other and to create a new media platform for celebrities to develop from. Like old school celebrities, connections seem to be more important than actual talent. I guess I don't think very highly of celebrities in general because there isn't always a relationship between fame and talent.

I don't think you're alone in that feeling, Andi, and what you're saying is totally emblematic of the kind of ambivalence we all feel at times about celebrities that we, personally, didn't choose as celebrities. I think there's always a tiny underlying current of "Why not me?" (or "Why not this other person I know who's so talented?")

I tend to agree with you that achieving fame often requires a healthy dose of connection-forging. There's no infallible agency out there that can bestow universally-unchallenged acclaim based on merit. If we want to be known, it's up to us to make ourselves known. There are creatives in the world who'd rather create than build relationships, and it's possible that we don't get to see these folks as readily as all those celebrities who made themselves known. Even so, the fact that someone is considered a celebrity and we don't agree with that doesn't make their hard work or dreams any less valid.

I think it's saddening that we seem to become more and more obsessed with celebrity, and so keen to tear our celebrities down too! Sometimes it appears envy comes into the equation even more than admiration.

To me there's a difference between celebrities and role models. Especially since both the internet and reality shows have made it much more common with celebrities that are famous for other reasons than being good at something.

Quite often, I admire people who help others and who show courage. For example, I know someone who saved a homeless man from drowning in an icy lake, and someone else who works in health care and who spoke out about serious issues that the management was trying to hide, and those kinds of things I admire deeply. And they don't have anything to do with my profession or hobbies.

When it comes to work and hobbies, there are a some famous people I admire and feel are inspiring, but I'm just as inspired by a conversation with a friend, a sunset or travel or the scent of a freshly picked apple… There are plenty of geniuses who come across as being rather unpleasant on a personal level!

Thanks for bringing up another interesting and complex topic!

I so agree, Kate - reality TV has spawned some really inane branches of celebrity, and this seems to make it more and more okay to denigrate people we see as famous.

Interestingly, I think we also make huge assumptions about how people we see as celebrities live their lives. We assume they're all wealthy and living in fabulous luxury, when in reality, this isn't universally true. In the craft community, I see this assumption play out regularly - that once you get a book deal, you're set for life, from a career standpoint. When in reality, all that happened was that you entered into a contract, wrote a book, and got paid a little. And then life goes on as normal!

Yes, I so agree! When I played in a rock band, and dreamed of getting signed for a contract, I met a seasoned producer who said "you think getting signed as a band will be the end of all your problems, but it's really just the beginning"! And you know what, he's right!

When you have tangible success, like a book deal or an art show, you enter a new chapter in your creative life. Many authors I know are almost paralyzed after the launch of a successful book because what if the next book fails?! It can be very inhibiting. The money is often not very good, in the internet era you're also expected to do most of the marketing yourself (for free), and then you become the target of people's envy and misunderstanding! And now you're isolated from the large group of aspiring fellow creatives. A tough match, indeed!

While there's a lot of information, web sites, books and so on for people who are just starting out, people who are in this new chapter in their creative lives can often find it hard to find resources and communities.

Sorry to paint such a dark picture, but I feel it's one that very rarely is spoken, and an area that deserves attention.

You were in a rock band?! Wow, I never knew that. I love what that producer said!

And, that's a great point- there's a ton of resources for people starting out, but precious little to help us navigate what happens after those first big opportunities. And community? Even harder to find, absolutely. And sadly.

This is oh so true.

One of the things I love most about the internet is the ability to find and name my own celebrities. I don't follow pop culture, haven't seen a movie in many years, don't watch TV, don't read People magazine, and I never have. Consequently I have no idea what most people are talking about when they talk in casual conversation. Instead, I have very focused interests that I pursue doggedly. Craft blogs have allowed me to seek out and find my own heroes and I am so thankful for that. Through them I am constantly inspired to create and motivated to improve my skills.

I am always taken aback when people react to me as a craft celebrity. Recently I was researching the idea of selling PDF patterns online. As part of my research I purchased two PDF patterns from two Etsy sellers who have been very successful pattern sellers. Each of them emailed me after my purchase feeling nervous about what I would say about their softie patterns, and feeling flattered that I even knew of their work. Such a weird feeling for me! I said to my husband, "If they only knew. I'm just like everyone else!" Mimi Kirchner and I were discussing this once and she put it very well. She tells people that she's an internet micro celebrity. Awesome.

See, this is exactly what I was referring to in our email exchange last week, Abby. I always think of you as a crafty celebrity, too - not in any negative sense, but in a kind of rarified, expert sense. I think you have a reputation for being very skilled at what you do (and your skill level really makes sense, based on your level of focus). Mimi, same thing - you both do what you do very well. And still, having had the pleasure of talking with you both by email (and once in person with Mimi), you really are just like everyone else.

I rather like being in a community where I know that the people I consider heroes still sew in their sweatpants, just like I do. :-)

I completely agree with Elizabeth's take on celebrity vs. hero. When I think of my own craft heroes, they're the people who are doing what I aspire to do, and doing it well. They're the people who challenge me to keep doing what I love, and inspire me to continue to grow and do better work. They're the people who paved the way and made it possible for me to pursue my own career. They're awesome, oozing with talent, and know how to snap a great photo, but they're also still just people.

For me, the celebrity/hero distinction is this: You can walk up to a hero at a conference, introduce yourself, and sincerely thank them for their hard work and inspiration. Afterward, you might find yourself with a new friend or crafty co-conspirator. But, once you've moved someone to celebrity status, you've also removed some of the humanity and accessibility, and that makes it a lot harder to form a real connection with the actual person behind the brand.

I feel fortunate to count many of my favorite bloggers/crafters from when I was just starting out as mentors and friends, but I don't know that those relationships would exist at all if I'd chosen to think of them first as celebrities rather than heroes.

BING!! That's an awesome angle, Haley - put someone up on that celebrity pedestal, and you do lose the chance to connect with them in meaningful ways. Love that idea!

Way too many of the 'celebrity crafters' I have seen just don't do it for me. Maybe it's my cold-heartedness, but I can't watch reality. It's absolutely ridiculous. Not tooting my own horn, but I've had my 15 minutes of fame and the only thing it meant to me was that my work was the key factor in catching a murderer. Does THAT make me better than anyone else, or put me at the top of the heap? Uh, no. I have to wonder if these 'celebrities' feel the kind of personal satisfaction I did when the show was over. How hard do they have to scrape to stay latched on to that pedestal? I know I'm getting off track here. Just sayin'.

Wow, now THAT's a claim to fame!

You raise a good point - fame is rarely a permanent situation. I'll bet there's a lot of scraping (to borrow your word) involved in prolonging it. And for me, that would be way too exhausting.

A thoughtful post as always.

We're so brutal to other people and especially brutal to ourselves. I think that brutality has a place sometimes (Why don't you take the 15 seconds to put your laundry on the basket instead of on the floor?!) but most of the time, I think it just fuels our dependence on anti-depressants.

I am always amazed at how other people put things together, carve out time for beauty and projects and prayer, and all I can think is, thank god I got to brush my teeth today. I have to work really hard to remember that they probably feel that way too.

Interesting that you bring this up, Diane. I have been thinking a lot about it over the past several months. For me, it looks like hero worship, and it frustrates me. There is such a small number of crafters that get celebrated, and there are so many fabulous ones! And yet somehow we only pay attention to the few. I think that we ought to celebrate the accomplishments of our friends and ourselves more often, and worry less about those crafty celebs. After all-- our own personal crafting networks and communities are far more inspiring and encouraging than a person who can't even know we exist.

I like that characterization, Jennifer: "a person who can’t even know we exist." There really is a separating factor to celebrity, and that's really too bad.

I also think it's interesting how there are information sources we all seem to look to for evidence that someone is a celebrity. I agree, we do see the same small subset of crafters pointed out over and over, but often, this is simply because these crafters have forged business relationships with craft-industry companies or media. The aura of celebrity is then implied by us. I'd love to see a more diverse group of crafters celebrated via industry and media channels, too, but we simply can't rely on the craft industry to do this. They operate on a whole other set of priorities, which is understandable.

I agree with Jennifer here. What I find so problematic about Internet celebrity is that it makes our heroes so tantalizingly accessible. I can send a Twitter message to anyone famous who has a feed. When that person responds, it can feel like a real high, but when they don't return or even acknowledge our admiration it can feel like a real failure, despite the reality that a celebrity can't possibly respond to everyone who approaches them.

...And I've had more than one experience of meeting someone I considered a celebrity (both in person and online), and finding myself admiring them much less afterward. There's a lot of subtle psychology going on there, I think - first, because we admire and revere this person so much, we may have an unconscious expectation of getting equal emotion back from them. Which is, of course, impossible, and that reality sort of crashes into our cloud of regard.

...And then once again, the people we consider celebrities/heroes are just fellow human beings. Many of us have a public persona and a private persona (and are entitled to have both), but there's something about meeting a hero and realizing that their public persona is something of a veneer. It feels like what you revered about them is a little fake, and that's disillusioning.

Exhausting is the word! My brain power wouldn't allow me to keep myself propped up without retribution! The crash wouldn't be pretty.

Diane, I so love how your posts create deep discussions! One of your bloggy trademarks.

I find myself being unaware of most crafty celebrities and bigger craft blogs - not because I wouldn't love many of them, but because time is so limited. So a goodly portion of this topic is going right over my head! I visit a tiny number of crafty blogs, most found by pure chance. I know I'm missing out on a lot...I'm sure I would adore the posts of everyone who comes to comment here - because I love the high level of discourse. I feel like telling everyone, "It's not you, it's me!" Don't know if this really relates to the subject, but it's what came to mind. My lack of participation in the big picture (the crafty celebrity scene?) sometimes makes me nervous. As a crafty blogger, shouldn't I know everything that's out there? But I like having a small circle, without knowing or caring how famous or obscure.

Ah, but there's absolutely no way to keep up with it all, so you're totally off that hook, Michelle! :-)

Well I basically ignore media hype and have a tendency to not like someone who's billed as a superstar, which isn't fair to them I realize. So I do try to check out a new name and if I think their work is interesting to me then I add them to my feed reader, which I guess would be my idea of celebredom.

I might check out a product or an article about someone I like but I don't automatically buy something because it's endorsed by someone I read/follow. I enjoy CraftyPod so when the new Clover flowers were featured I did check them out, but then didn't go on my "buy" list until I'd seen them in action and was satisfied that I would like them. So it does seem that there is a value in popular bloggers highlighting products. But to blind sheep follow because a 'celebrity' says so is just an excuse to not think or not create - the lazy way out.

honestly, who are these crafty celebrities? Maybe marketing people slap that name onto any product they are trying to sell? I can think of a very few who I consider "celebs" and they have worked very hard to get where they are. Also, they are usually very nice people who know how to connect. I have no problem with that. But I think the online craft world is incredibly diverse. When I talk to my craft friends and we end up discussing who we admire and which people we follow, we never have the same list. I wonder if we all made a list of our personal celebrities (I like the term heroes much better), how much overlap there would even be!

And to comment on what Abby said about my self-label as an internet micro celebrity- I only say that if I am a gathering where no one knows me, most of the people are not into the arts, and probably have limited internet experience. You know, like a neighborhood party or something at my husband's office. I find it is a conversation starter as opposed to killer- which telling someone I make dolls most definitely is!

This is a great conversation- Thanks Diane!

If we met at a party and you said you made dolls, I'd be totally into it. :-)

I didn't mention it explicitly but really I meant talking to men. Watch the eyes glaze over when anything related to fabric comes up in conversation ;-)

I've always been prone to finding personal heroes (for lack of a better word -- I think it's a better fit than celebrity for me, personally). They're generally people whose skill impresses me and inspires me to strive to be better.

And it's not just crafty folks. I was a reporter and editor for many years, and I always had other writers whose skill with words could make my jaw drop.

The PR stuff is silly, and makes me roll my eyes. It's all hyperbole. I'm not sure why they think they have to go that far to sell books (or whatever else they're selling). But is it really different than the hyperbole that P.T. Barnum was famous for?

I do agree that there's something even more overwhelming about some of these so-called celebs that a dozen magazines keep pushing at us than I remember from the good ol' days of my youth. :-/

This subject matter has been rattling away in my brain for a while too. It's certainly an interesting phenomenon to observe. I think it's great to have examples to look up to within a niche community. But I also think too much energy is invested in the hero/celebrity worship. Too often it leads to envy and transference. Instead of directing that energy into our own journey, we are tempted to waste it by letting ourselves get caught up in our deficiencies.

We each have a sphere of influence. Some have larger spheres than others. But all of us have the choice of whether or not we share our unique view of life and the world with those around us. Not every star is visible across a galaxy; but each shines brightly in its own region of space.

Beautifully-said, Melissa - thanks so much for your comment!

I just added you to my Reader so I won't miss a thing going on here.

Thanks, Melissa! I like what you're doing on your blog - I added you to my reader as well.

Thank You for writing this article! I recently started up all my social media stuff again & it is a lot of work with little payoff (so far). I know that it's not How Many Views or Tweets or Clicks or Likes I get, but just the fact that I'm trying to create good quality content for people. I know that recognition with come with time, and I want real respect for me & my craft rather than just 15 (now on the internet) SECONDS of fame.

My husband & I always talk about what makes your life successful. American culture values money & power & celebrity as true signs of success rather that happiness & quality of life. My husband is Hawaiian so he has a different view of things, it's in his nature.

One last thing... It's funny that you wrote this article cause we just watched an awesome (but be warned, violent) movie called "God Bless America" last night. It kinda has to do with the falsity of fame & celebrity in American Pop Culture. You should definitely check it out!

Will do, Chrissy - thanks so much for the recommendation!

I so agree - American cultural values feel way out of whack to me. By American standards, my partner and I live a very weird life, not owning a house or car, working for ourselves, and enjoying our days. But we're very happy in these choices.

...And can anyone point to a novel, movie, TV show or other story in which someone achieves fame and fortune and then lives happily ever after? I don't think I've ever seen it play out that way!

Oh boy... I had a great long response and then I accidentally closed the window. Ha!

In a nutshell... We know next to nothing about the celebrities that we choose. I for one was recently disenchanted with a crafter (copying another artist's friends work will do that) and it reminded me of that. Celebrity and fame are very fickle. While there is nothing wrong with having our heroes (love that term too) I think we should just stick to doing our best in our own little sphere of influence as Melissa so aptly put it. Who can go wrong with that?

A week ago I showed an online comment that was made of my work to my son and he exclaimed, "wow, mom you're famous!" I said, "you know what? I don't feel it at all. I'm still the same mom that will pick you up from school later today and make dinner tonight. fame doesn't change any of that" Sure enough... I did have to make dinner several hours later. No magic chef appear in our kitchen that night! Haha!