I just had a rather surreal experience. I was bored and in need of something to do while I procrastinated, so I went on Youtube and stumbled upon a short series called Celebrity Big Brother UK 2002. I’ve always been a Big Brother fan, and this series was only 10 days long, much shorter than a typical Big Brother season, which usually lasts for an entire summer, so I thought, why not? Here was an opportunity to be a voyeur but without the long term commitment.
To summarize, 6 celebrities entered a house where cameras watched them 24 hours a day, and the public voted them off one by one. It was all to raise money for charity. But what made the experience so strange for me was that I didn’t know any of these people. They are celebrities from a different country, and removed by more than a decade. If I passed one of them on the street, I wouldn’t even look up, most likely.
Some of them desperately wanted the world to see what they were really like, while others were more interested in closely guarding their personal character. They were all very conscious of public perception. Several of them talked about how they didn’t have a private life.
But I can’t emphasize this enough: I did not know these people at all. So really, it was pretty much like watching a regular Big Brother season, only at an accelerated pace. To me, they were just people on a reality show.
That must be a really strange feeling. It is all to one extreme or another. Everyone they meet is either a fan or a total stranger. How do you live your life when you’re constantly crossing that border from celebrity to anonymity? What does that do to your ego? How do you approach people when you don’t know which side of the spectrum they will fall on? What’s more shocking, being recognized or being ignored?
If I didn’t know it already, this experience convinced me of the artificial nature of fame. It must be awfully stressful to spend so much time trying to cling to something that is as insubstantial as smoke. It also reinforced the fact that there’s really no need to worry about what people think of you. In the overall scheme of things, we as individuals aren’t really that important, and we need to get over ourselves.
Next time I cross paths with a celebrity I won’t be nearly as intimidated. Actually, I’ll probably feel kind of sorry for them. I may not have much, but I do have a stable sense of my own identity, and can rely on the fact that most people won’t remember me three minutes after I’ve left the room. To be honest, that sure beats the alternative, as far as I can tell.
Famous people or total strangers?
[Image credit: thisisbigbrother.com]