So, Robert Pattinson has added his name to the long list of celebrities who don't want to be famous anymore. Seems that the Twilight prince has had his fill of the fame monster and wants nothing to do with the hullabaloo that comes with being a sparkly vampire and obsessionplate for adoring fans of all ages. (Sort of like Shia LeBeouf, but way less douchey and strange.) But we totally don't Pattinson him because, frankly, who would want to be famous today? by the looks of it, being a celebrity in 2014 totally fucking sucks.
Let's get one thing straight: acting is a choice and a luxurious one at that in terms of a career. And, just like other professions, it takes all kinds: famewhores and introverts alike. But no one should have to give up their lives to do it if they don't want to, and it's unfair to take that choice away from some just because of the existence of their other, louder counterparts. Like we've previously discussed thanks to Game of Thrones star Jack Gleeson's brilliant takedown of celebrity culture, the fame game of 2014 is all about invasion and dissection — with an unhealthy dollop of blinders-up adoration on top.
It's a far cry from cinema's roots: just look at the differences in the landscape. During the golden age of cinema (the 1920s - 1960s), celebrities were mainly movie stars and those in and around the TV and movie business. There were no paparazzi, no tabloids, no websites — heck, there weren't even smart phones or Twitter or Facebook or any of the other myriad nonsensical things we've created in order to boost our own signals out in the world. The celebrity industrial complex is real.
What was once a byproduct of a job is now a multi-headed hydra, made up of one a single person's livelihood-turned-Branding Opportunity, which people and the media have insisted upon becoming the norm. Being famous has turned these people's private lives into nothing more than "intimate moments waiting to be documented," but with rodeo-esque abandon. The line that was once there has been demolished, in its place is a line of cameras on record. Putting it plainly regarding the blockbuster that made him a megastar in a piece in Germany's Interview magazine, Pattinson quipped: "Twilight has its own parallel world, its own fan culture that has been forming on the net since day one — and in an intense way that has never existed before."
Imagine if Marlon Brando, James Dean, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, and Marilyn Monroe existed in today's modern-age of celebrity worship. Would their bests had been as sweet if we'd known every single minute detail about their days, nights, love lives, home lives, and inner turmoils? If we saw they wore sweatpants to pick up their dry cleaning or take their dog on a walk? Would they have been as revered or iconized if Twitter and the myriad talking heads with extreme opinions had been there to document Garland's breakdown, Dean's disillusionment, Brando's sexuality in excruciatingly speculative and unnecessary detail? It's safe to say the answer is a resounding "no." Sure, Monroe had herself a walloper of a time, but hers was the first instance of such heightened obsession, and many would claim that it's largely what killed her.
But our new system, so integrated, so obsessive, so always-on both intensifies that love people have, while simultaneously guaranteeing the object of its affections will be torn down and their humanity removed. Celebrity as a concept today means you're more than a person: you're a Famous Person, so the "rules" of normalcy don't apply. Which is just absolute garbage, considering all these people are trying to do (for the most part) is do their job and do it well so that they can get more jobs in the future.
And it made sense, because an actor's job involved a visual notoriety. After all, their talents are bodily rather than a byproduct or something created outside of their physical selves. And because the Internet didn't exist and they knew they had more important things to worry about, they accepted that as fact, and therefore the Brandos and the Garlands and the Deans were afforded the right to privacy that any of us Normals expect and receive. And even if they were the subject of newspaper fodder, at least they could tuck themselves safely away in their homes high atop the Hollywood Hills or over in Larchmont and Mid-City for escape. A line that could not — and would not — be crossed out of respect for the actors' personhood. But lord knows in the TMZ age that's a thing of the past.
Celebrities today are not afforded anywhere near the amount of respect and privacy that icons of the golden age were allowed. Where they were able to carry the label of both "human" and "famous person," today's celebrities are expected to forgo their humanity (and in turn, privacy) as nothing more than a small sacrifice to achieve celebrity, which has become the ultimate success marker in our seriously flawed societal priority list. No wonder celebrities don't want to be famous anymore — who'd want to be famous if sacrificing your life was the price of being good at your job?