Sunday, September 16, 2012

Celebrity Intervention

I have met only three celebrities in my life.  I was more than awkward at every meeting.  I embarass easily, with my face and neck turning splotchy shades of red whenever I speak publically, to figures of authority, and, of course, to celebrities.

Two of the celebrities are the writing team of Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson who have written two non-fiction books about The Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and five mystery/detective books based around The Body Farm and the University of Tennessee.  I've actually met them a few times now at book signings at the University and at Borders (sadly defunct).  I think it was perhaps the fifth time I'd met them before I really spoke to them other than to ask for a photo.  I asked them advice about getting consent from the University to use it in their fiction books.  Jon Jefferson responded that it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.  However, Bill Bass being a celebrity on campus I doubt that UT minded.

The other celebrity I've met was Kevin Max, then a member of dc Talk on their last tour together.  In the world of Christian rock (and to those who have a penchant for poetry), he is a super star.  I brought a copy of his first poetry book to the concert to get his autograph, which made me feel nervous enough, but I was also sent with a letter by a dear friend who asked me to hand deliever it.  I did not fair well.  The message my friend asked me to deliver turned out to be rather personal and set him off-balance from the start.  Then I studdered and stammered, feeling myself yearning for some poetic connection but leaving with an autograph and a photo of me with this person I greatly admired.  A photo I don't show to others often because of how horribly splotchy red I am in it.  (I cropped myself out of the photo to use it here.)

Aside from my shyness, nervousness, and crowd anxieties, why was I so nervous around these three celebrities?  Why are any of us?  They are just normal people who have done something we admire and/or perhaps wish to aspire to.  Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson write mystery/detective books with Bass' dry humor firmly ensconced in the details and dead bodies.  Kevin Max is an amazing poet, singer, and creative personality.  He is also extremely beautiful.  Beautiful people have made me nervous since the first grade (and my first serious rejection - Michael moved his nap mat away from mind).

So if they are pretty much like the rest of us then why all the nervousness or for some near insanity?  There is a perceived differentness that we feel sets them apart from us.  For some people this perception leads to a need to attach themselves or identify with a celebrity that goes beyond the ordinary.  These days the line between the celebrity and their fans are even more blurred by 24/7 access through news, websites, and especially Twitter which lends what feels like open access to those with fame.

I admit I am not immune to feeling overwhelmed by celebrity nearness.  I admit to having a giddy rush when my tweets are answered or retweeted by someone who has achieved more than me.  It shames me to admit that I felt like a silly giggling school girl who's just had the hot jock wink at her when Joe Hill answered my question about the necessity of napping.  It is incredibly shameful to admit that.

I find it a bit worrisome how much some people invest in following and/or pleasing their favorite celebrities.  Some people (and I admit here that I was guilty of this when I was younger) invest vast amounts of time, energy, emotions, and monies on celebrities whom they've fixated on.  I have a theory (mainly because I know it was my reason in my own youth) that it's a means of escape.  It's easier to follow the life of your favorite band members, singers, actors, writers, artists than it is sometimes to focus on your own life especially if there are a lot of problems in your own life that you can't solve or situation you can't find a way out of.

I get concerned for others, though, when  I see rants like I've seen in recent years on YouTube (which has offered another possible way to reach your fave) most recently the video that went viral after Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Patterson.  It is very unhealthy to be that emotionally invested in anyone, let alone someone you don't personally know.  There also seems to be a rise in celebrity stalking cases which is even more disturbing.

I have admitted to several things here.  Now I'll admit to one more.  When I left my abusive childhood home and thought all of it was behind me, I developed a fixation on Axl Rose after the 1992 Rolling Stone article in which he detailed his own childhood abuse.  I connected with other fans via letters (this was before the internet exploded) and swapped articles, photos, merchandise, personal accounts with the band - anything and everything to get that next "fix".  I don't use that term lightly because you get that same rush you get when that high school hottie acknowledges your existence.  You feel happy for a while then you drop lower and wait for the next fix.

I decided to get help after one of my pen pals confided in a letter that she slit her wrists after Axl broke up with Stephanie Seymour then started dating someone else.  She felt she'd missed her chance with him.  I didn't want to feel that way about anyone let alone someone I might never meet.  I entered therapy which helped me overcome some of the issues from my childhood abuse.  I still have hang ups and weirdness (seriously, office supplies are so cool) but I feel healthier now.  Celebrities are just people.  If they do something that I find cool, I may follow them on Twitter or listen to news about them if it comes on while I'm already watching the tube, but I don't have the time, energy, money, or inclination to invest any part of myself on them.  I just wish I could get a monetary refund on my Guns N Roses obsession.

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