Friday, April 25, 2014

On Celebrity

Sometimes on Facebook I spend an inordinate amount of time responding to a friend's status update, constructing (what I hope to be) a well-thought-out response to the subject that, honestly, is way more than anyone expects of a comment on Facebook. Unless you're discussing philosophy or something, in which case it's the norm.

That said, I've decided to salvage a comment I made on somebody's Facebook status, since it pretty effectively conveys my stance on celebrity.

To set up the comment, the original post by my friend John "Hex" Carter was this:
#‎nerdfession‬ I'm not really a fan of Felicia Day, Chris Hardwick, Wil Wheaton or most of that nerd celebrity crowd. I just don't get the appeal. They're saying the same shit we say, just from a pedestal y'all built for them :/
What followed was a series of comments either agreeing with the sentiment (often followed by a specific reason) or disagreeing with a defense of X person's character.

So, I posted this:
I'm not really familiar with Chris Hardwick, but I understand not really getting celebrity.

I remember a few years ago, during my first few PAXes with Fangamer, Wil Wheaton would stop by our booth to buy stuff. I was never there when this happened, but when he's try to buy something the person helping him would just give him stuff, not accepting payment. He wanted to pay, but they wouldn't accept.

I was disappointed upon hearing this. I wasn't sure who Wheaton was at the time or why he was famous (I still haven't watched much Star Trek), but it sounded to me like he was hoping to be treated like a normal human. By not accepting his money we were separating him from ourselves, and it doesn't matter if your intention is to elevate when you do something like that, you're still erecting a barrier between yourself and this other person.

It's similar to how some guys overcompensate for misogyny by elevating women to the status of a goddess, which presents a whole different set of issues when relating to women, which is something I bet Felicia Day deals with constantly. A pedestal separates as effectively as a pit. In the end, I suspect people, even most celebrities, would prefer to simply be treated as humans.

Which brings me back to Wil. He hasn't been back for a past few years, and while I don't know his reasons, I suspect that being treated like a king made him uncomfortable.

Then again, I may just be projecting.


  1. I enjoy Chris Hardwick's work. But for the most part I really idolize people more near my level on the internet way more than any celebrity. Not really sure why... Even though it's awkward to say, and they'd probably not want to be idolized, but I really really like Jami. I love listening to Space Boyfriend a lot and just find em to be an awesome person. I enjoy all our interactions on Twitter and I was honestly really bummed we didn't meet up at AX last year. I feel awkward just admitting all this. But I truly do look up to people like Jami a lot more than anyone on tv or in the movies and whatnot.

    Now excuse me while I go sit in a corner until this awkwardness goes away.

    1. No, I feel you completely on the urge to idolize Jami. He's an amazingly cool and fun person who's doing what he loves and spreading that love across the globe. It's super hard NOT to like Jami, hehe :)

      Maybe you (and I) look up to internet friends more than "celebrities" because it's easier to get in touch with internet people. They'll interact with us, making us feel special, way more than an a-list celebrity would.

  2. "A pedestal separates as effectively as a pit."

    Such true words. I've been in the habit of putting even non-celebrities on pedestals before. I met someone recently who I'd had on a pedestal for years and years. When I discovered that that person was just another human, and actually kind of annoying IRL, it was extremely hard for me to deal with.

    In the end, putting people on pedestals is bad news for both parties involved.