Andy Warhol made his career in part insisting that we all will achieve 15 minutes of fame at some moment in our lives.
What did he mean by this? Is this true?
Certainly society promotes the premise and thrives on it. The entertainment media has tapped into a wellspring of psychological and emotional needs.
Reality TV shows take us deep into jungles, where casts of everyday people try to survive, with or without clothing. We enter the private worlds of families with vast amounts of children.
TV shows such as “The Voice” and “American Idol” draw millions of viewers every season. Hopefuls young and old line up and clamor for a few critical moments to audition — to be seen, noticed, adored and most importantly, “chosen.”
The Coliseum of Ancient Rome been resurrected in our social-media epoch, with the public watching from the comfort of homes. Audiences throw their thumbs up for approval of participants — or call for their symbolic death with a thumbs down.
Where does the participants’ deep desire to be seen, noticed and chosen come from?
Is it possible something deeper is missing from the lives of those who seek fame, or the vicarious fame seekers?
(It’s important to note that fortune is not a necessary component, for these seekers possess a set of expectations and desires quite different from fortune hunters.)
For these seekers of fame there appears to be a hunger dating back to long ago. A societal deprivation that crept in slowly and steadily, unrecognized. This hunger may have been passed through the generations, made acute by society’s dedication to a “strong work ethic,” religious fervor, emotional stoicism — or simply by feelings of embitterment.
Parents for centuries were taught to raise their children to be seen and not heard. Family systems were constructed for compliance with the system. Those who rocked the boat often were considered heretics.
Silencing children over time takes it toll. Emotional deprivation was very real and prevalent throughout history — and remains so today.
The idea that certain kinds of attention now will heal these wounds is deeply flawed. This “fame” is a fleeting illusion. Old wounds for a moment appear to be erased as a “crowd” gathers, applauds, then leaves.
The true attention required is of a particular kind. Not necessarily attention inspired by achievement. We hunger deeply for validation of who we “are,” rather than what “we do.”
Fifteen minutes or 15 years of fame — while producing euphoric feelings in its space in time — often leaves a vacuum, where only a longing to be treasured and loved for our innate human worth resides.
Perhaps part of the antidote may be found in simple daily verbal recognition of the significance and value of who we are — each person unique in his or her own sacred way.
A healing potion consisting of self-love and self-care — sprinkled with a daily mindfulness that while we are not perfect, we are worthy of abiding love. A profound gift that if permitted for ourselves may also extend to others, just like magic.
> Related post: “Why Do We Mourn for Celebrities?”