“I want to be famous,” my 11-year-old tells me. We are standing on Hollywood Boulevard watching the premiere of the new Ben Stiller movie, “The Watch.” I had a meeting in Los Angeles and brought my daughter along for a fun overnighter.
“Why do you want to be famous?” I ask. After working red carpet premieres for years, I’ve seen enough celebrities hassled to know being famous is not synonymous with fun.
“Because you get to do what you want and wear anything you want.”
“You get to do that anyway.” I say, “As long as it’s appropriate.” Her itsy-bitsy-polka-dot bikini top that came home from Nordstrom’s the other day made a quick return to the racks.
“But designers give them clothes. They get to travel everywhere,” she defended.
“That’s true. But if you were famous now, you wouldn’t be able to be in your sweats and a ponytail. Everyone would be taking your picture.”
She looked at me flatly. I knew my arguments were getting me nowhere. Just then the paparazzi swarmed Nicholas Braun, an actor in “Prom.”
I asked Lynette Wilhardt, clinical director of Kids Konnected, why kids are obsessed with being famous. “In today’s society with all the stressors for kids like school, friends, and sports, the celebrities make life look so easy.” She added, “They don’t work, have status and all the money to buy whatever they want. There are a lot of accolades for people who have celebrity status, although no talent, like the Kardashians.”
Thank you, Kim Kardashian and family. In a trend that started with Paris Hilton, Kim is famous for doing nothing but being famous. Now, that’s not really fair. Kim did do an X-rated movie that she pretended she didn’t make and got a $5 million settlement. I guess when she posed for Playboy a few years later that was an accident too.
During our Hollywood visit, my daughter and I went to Dash, the Kardashian clothing store on Melrose Avenue. You wait in line until the man in the suit lets you in to buy a $60 t-shirt and $4 pencil.
My daughter looked at the clothing, which was expensive and not cute, and decided on two pencils. While she paid with her own money, a mother and her teenage daughter bought six t-shirts, four key chains, and a handful of pencils. Sigh.
I was feeling pretty bummed about the whole fame thing until the Olympics started and delivered Missy Franklin, an adorable 16 year old swimmer from Colorado. She won four gold medals, showing young girls everywhere that you can become famous for your ability to swim and compete, all with a smile and simple pearl earrings. .
Katie Ledecky, the 15-year-old gold medal swimmer from Maryland, and the Fabulous Five gymnasts have also been excellent examples of fame from hard work and a commitment to excellence. Fortunately, my daughters are fascinated with these young women.
Hopefully now, the conversation can change. If only Missy Franklin could have a reality show on Bravo, then the fascination with stupidity and 72-day marriages might end. I doubt it though. I think even we adults need our train wrecks to truly enjoy our heroes.
We just need to make sure our kids don’t idolize the wrecks more than the workers.
Christine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org