An embarrassing illustration of the dynamics between fans & celebrities
Two things I would never want to be:
a) the president (or equiv) of any country
b) a famous person of any kind
Never in a million years would I want the enormous responsibility of running an entire country. And granted, there are definitely some perks of fame like traveling the world and working with some really brilliant people, but I like living inconspicuously, thank you very much. I want to play the piano in my underwear without worrying about the paps trying to get a shot through my living room windows. Why is it no one cares if you play the piano in your underwear until you're famous? Fame solicits scrutiny and desire. Then you've gotta wear clothes all the time. No, thank you!
It's a shame some people can't do what they love without sacrificing privacy and security. (Let me stop here and say upfront this is not a judgement of others or how they choose to live. Luckily, I'm not at risk of ever becoming famous, but in a hypothetical situation, I think I would hate it because I have such a low tolerance for bullshit.) I had a stalker in college, and the experience of having my privacy violated was absolutely awful, especially given my penchant for nudity. That sounds like a joke, but I'm actually quite serious. I'm all for feeling a little vulnerable, but I should get to decide what I share. I know it doesn't appear I keep many secrets on nelbell.com, but I assure you I do in order to protect my physical safety and the privacy of my loved ones. Because my need to write & create prevails regardless of privacy issues, I have stockpiled some rather profound essays and beautiful photographs (i.e., my children) that you will never read or see. I do resent the feeling of having to withhold my work, but it's not worth risking anyone's safety or privacy. And the number of hits on my web site is absolutely nothing compfangiared to the number of people who want a piece of Hollywood celebs, pop stars, professional athletes, and reality stars, but it is unrestricted which means I have to be cautious. And let me be clear — even if everyone in the world was stable and trustworthy, I would still have boundaries because I simply don't have the authority to share my friends' and family's private moments. But hate mail, obsessed fans, paparazzi... it makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me nervous to call myself a fan of anyone because I'm afraid of crossing the line to crazed lunatic.
Cue the insanity.
My hopefully-one-day-sister-in-law and I are going to Adele's concert in July. (There will be a separate post explaining why I paid four times face value for floor seats to see Adele at some point in the future, but that's not the point of this post. And I do have a point. I'll say right now, it will be a doozy so stay tuned. It involves the tale of ER visits in two states, my son nearly dying of adrenal crisis, allergy patch testing, vomit, and an ice storm. Oh, and an Adele concert. In that order. Oh, I'm such a tease!)
So back to my trip to Crazy Town. While I was listening to Adele in the shower the other morning, I actually had the thought, fleeting though it was, "I bet they'll be feeling pretty isolated by July; probably a little sick of each other and yearning for some outside conversation. I should see if Adele and any of the crew would like to meet for coffee or brunch that Sunday morning. Oh, wait! Adele's on that strict diet and is trying to minimize talking to protect her vocal cords." What. The. Fack! Like I was doing them a favor or something! Can you imagine? Does this make me a crazed fan? I feel like it does! (But my heart was in the right place, yes? Ugh.) Anyway, I immediately snapped back to reality the moment I completed the thought and said to myself:
Me: "Adele doesn't have a clue you exist, you wack job!"
Myself: "Oh, right!"
Me: "You might want to back off the Adele interviews and concert videos."
Myself: "You're probably right."
So the conclusion I came to after this ridiculous episode is that the experiences for fans and celebrities are completely different. I don't doubt that most celebrities have genuine love and appreciation for their fans as a collective group (and, yes, may occasionally connect briefly during a meet & greet or a photo opp), but they can't possibly know all of their fans. (You guys, Adele has 25.9 million followers on Twitter, 9.9 million on Instagram, and 64,922,683 people have liked her Facebook page!) On the contrary, the experience for the fan is completely different. Fans know so many details about our favorite athletes and performers thanks to the constant, instant stream of modern media that it's easy to think of them as friends. This was me! Even though I generally consider myself completely uninterested in celebritydom, I follow a few Adele fan sites which ultimately led me to my total fangirl moment. I've learned so much about her, I literally forgot Adele is not my friend nor am I hers!
In Adele's case, so many of us have genuine love for her because she's so humble, vulnerable and relatable - in addition to her unparalleled talent as a singer-songwriter, of course. What you see is what you get. She has exposed her heart and soul to the world through her music, candid interviews, and unfiltered concert chatter. You can see she is "just one of the girls," and she strikes us as someone we would have a casual coffee with so it's not so out of line to picture the brunch scenario. But that's only my experience. Adele's (and every other celebrity's) perspective is a totally different one. She doesn't know details of the lives of her millions of fans. Her reality is having a body guard accompany her everywhere. She is constantly at risk of being recognized by people who will likely invade her private moments to some degree. She prides herself on her ability to be unrecognized in public, but she surely can't meet a friend for a drink as easily or safely as I can. And she has to deal with people like me, total strangers, who think she should meet them for breakfast and who write entire blog posts about her as if they are the authority on her life as a celebrity. (Whoops. Sorry, Adele, `et alia'.) And what I would assume is the most difficult of all, she has to figure out how to protect her son from it all. The alternative to all of this is to stop doing what she loves and to stop sharing her gifts with the world, which would be a shame for both her and her 8.2 gazillion fans. (Even then, how many years do you think it will take for the fanfare to die down?)
What a perfect illustration of the sacrifices we have to make in life. Regardless of fame, we all make sacrifices to varying degrees because we literally cannot have it all. We strive for balance, but some things are mutually exclusive. Most of us probably can't eat ice cream for dinner every night and still lose those five extra pounds. I can't bare my entire soul without feeling guilty for violating someone else's privacy. Adele can't have the quiet, private life she used to have while she's living her dream of having a successful music career of this magnitude. We all have to make choices. And I'm so loving Adele's current choice.
Adele goes out of her way to make us all feel like friends during her concerts, and I'm excited to share that bond with 20,000 strangers in July. I don't have to have intimate conversations with 20,000 people in order to share a bonding experience, but the whole situation highlights the odd dynamics in the spaces where the ordinary and extraordinary come together.
Here's a quick read I found after writing this post. I know you're tired after reading my lengthy drivel, but I promise it is short.
Janelle is the sole author at nelbell.com.