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I read in the news the other day that compared to previous years, not very many people watched the Oscars on TV this year. Since I don't have television and I wouldn't watch the Oscars even if I did, this isn't an issue in my world, but I confess that I love the idea of no one tuning into the ego-fest that is entertainment award shows. Frankly, I don't like celebrities and I have no interest whatsoever in watching them engage in gushing all over themselves.
I was raised by people who believed that self-aggrandizement was vulgar. In my family we were taught that praising others was a good thing but self-praise was something that only the hopelessly egotistical and those totally without character or grace practiced. This didn't come from any religious doctrine, we didn't have one, or from some kind of need for self-abuse, but rather, as always in my house, a matter of good behavior vs bad behavior. We don't, as a rule, engage in self-celebration or desire that anyone celebrate us. The whole idea makes us uncomfortable. We would not, for example, ever throw ourselves a birthday party or create any kind of scenario where we were the center of attention. It isn't that we care particularly if anyone else does it, we just don't roll that way. It may come from our Scottish dourness or our family history of extreme stoicism, I don't know, but it definitely stuck over many generations. In the end it is why none of us could ever be performers, despite plenty of talent. The whole business just struck us as embarrassing nonsense. It is possible that the way we are resulted in holding us back in life. Oh, well.
Two of my brothers are among the funniest people I have ever known and either one of them could have been funny professionally, but it never would have been possible for them to pull it off. We all had musical talent but never envisioned ourselves performing in a theater or stadium. My brothers, like all young men of their time, wanted to be rock stars for awhile, but never had the kind of drive to do it. The sad fact is that we were given all sorts of gifts but, by nurture or nature or both, denied the personality types to do anything with them. As I look back on our growing years I realize that our friends and neighbors would religiously come to our house to listen to us play instruments and sing or just listen to us engage in lively conversation, but we never really thought that we could turn any of that into some kind of career. Maybe, if it were a couple of hundred years ago when people had no electronic entertainment options and clever, amusing, witty, and smart people were in demand for social occasions we could have pulled it off. In retrospect, we were out of our time.
These days, self-aggrandizement, self-promotion, and generally carrying-on are all the rage. The ultimate goal of everyone seems to be celebrity status no matter what the cost. It used to be this phenomenon occurred almost exclusively in entertainment, but then sports figures, numb as a stump heiresses, random rich people, ignorant hillbillies, and probably plumbers and accountants all jumped on board. Andy Warhol was right, everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and apparently, they don't care one iota how they get it or if the price is the sacrifice of all dignity and character. Allow cameras into your life to reveal you being a village idiot, go to remote islands and eat bugs, make a sex tape, take your clothes off (everyone seems to want to do that), or, if you are a complete violent psychotic, get yourself a combat grade weapon and kill as many people as you can for no apparent reason. The outcomes might be different, but the motivations are all the same. Be famous, even if you have to behave like a moron, commit unspeakable acts, or die trying. No matter how you look at it, it seems to me that it comes from someplace small and evil. Someplace not clean.
Whenever I feel kind of bad that my brothers and I were crippled by our own natures, I realize that all things considered, and given the way of the world these days, I think that we benefited more from our distaste for celebrity than suffered from it. It could be that the entire world was spared having to pay any attention to us. No one tweets about us, no one follows us around with cameras, no one no one cares what we wear or how we spend our time. We have neither fame nor fortune and no one cares particularly who we are or what we do and that's just the way we like it.
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