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Anybody Can Do It – Sort Of

 

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One of my past bosses was prone to saying things like, “If it was easy anybody could do it.” Then he’d immediately add, “And it wouldn’t be fun.” Eventually he contracted all of that down to “If it was easy it wouldn’t be fun.” I never thought much about the implications of what he was saying until I moved on to working for someone else, a guy who was more prone to saying hackneyed things about his aunt not being his uncle because she lacked the balls – or something like that. Clearly, though, my old boss saw merit in the difficulty of the struggle. To him that made the work fun.

I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say work is fun but there are things that make the time seemed to pass by quickly. The effort involved in doing something makes it an adventure. It also defines us as individuals by the level of struggle we are willing to endure to succeed. To some extent it is true that the people who aren’t famous are the ones who were unwilling to put forth the effort required. Although in some instances it seems others become famous for no apparent reason, there is always a reason for it and if it didn’t take them effort to get there it certainly requires effort to remain there. Also, what is required for fame to endure will tend to piss off some people along the way. Family and some friends have the choice of being supportive or feeling neglected. At times they may believe that the famous person has changed. That’s not the usual case, though.  I’ll explain some o that later.

All this came to mind this morning while I was writing a book review. Yeah, that’s how my mind works: do one thing while thinking of several other things in the process. I’m weird like that. Anyway, last night a good friend and I were discussing fame and why it comes easy for some people and not others. I asserted that anyone can be famous, it’s just that most are not willing to follow through and take the necessary steps for whatever reason.

Why would someone set out to become famous then not complete the process? Well, there are several very good reasons. Foremost is that being famous is not what people think it is go ingot be like. I’ve never been famous but I know people who are or have been for a period. So I have some insight on how it changed them and how it did not – kind of a before and after. Let me start out by saying that when each one became famous for a while it was fun for them and their closest friends who enjoyed the moment vicariously or through close association. It didn’t really change who they were but it changed how others, particularly strangers and friends who, in truth, were hardly better than acquaintances, responded to them. True friend were still friends. There wasn’t as much time to spend together, perhaps but that was sort of understandable with all the demands of maintaining fame. Then, far more abruptly than the fame came, all of it went away.

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That’s pretty much how it happens, I guess. And from having witnessed the process a few times I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone has it in them to be famous. What is required it connecting with the moment and as many people as possible. You entertain them for however long you command attention and when it is over, if you don’t have something new to give, fickle human nature takes charge. The audience move on to the next greatest thing and unless you have something to bring their focus back, of have some slick marketing behind you with a publicity campaign to keep your name out there in public view at all times, you lose the spotlight.

Andy Warhol mentioned the 15 minutes of fame everyone supposedly has. It is pretty much the same thing, expect these days, with the Internet and everything else, it is more like five seconds. Yet never before has it been more possible to be famous. Writers don’t need publishers to share their writing, musicians don’t need record labels, and clearly you don’t need to be an actor or have any real talent or skills to be on TV. You just have to do something that provokes others to take interest. Then you, or rather what you do/did, goes viral. If you know how to hang on and adapt you might be famous for more than ten seconds.

So here’s a simple five step plan for fame:

1) grab attention.

2) hold attention.

3) gain more attention.

4) extend and maintain interest.

5) repeat steps one through four.

Yeah it is overly simplified, but that is also my point. We make it too hard when it’s really not. All you need to be famous is to get everyone’s attention and keep it for a while.

The first few moments of a song or the first few sentences of a book MUST gain attention of the target audience, otherwise what follows is irrelevant. That’s the nature of the world and I think that’s is why most people fail to become famous. They don’t have a firm grip on attention grabbing. The five seconds you have to convince anyone that should be famous expires while you are still thinking of the right way to begin.

#fame #attention #famous #publicity

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Chasing Fame

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It’s a time when the definition of fame has been turned over and wedged sideways into our minds. What does it mean anymore when Realty TV stars (let’s not go into the inherent oxymoron due the obviously scripted and over-acted, self-indulgent performances) proliferate the airwaves for apparently no other reason that filling time in a programming schedule. Are they famous, yes. Why? Don’t ask me.

I guess being famous meant something back when the famous had some personal standards, codes of ethics, or restrain on public social behavior. Now it appears to be ‘cool’ to be caught in the act of being stupid drunk or stoned in public. It’s all publicity, isn’t it. And we have all heard that any publicity is good publicity. Well, that is until the public becomes disgusted and moved on to tracking the next big thing. And thanks to the PR machines there is always a a new and briefly exciting next big thing.

America has always a land of opportunity but also there are contrasts, extremes and excesses evident to anyone who cares to pay attention. We elect people to govern us because they look good not because they have the credentials to pass the job interview. But one thing has never changed. America has a good heart filled with average people who do their routine things to make everything work. The buy things, including the CDs of downloads of their favorites musicians, watch the shows on TV, and buy all the products advertised. The buy the latest book from their favorite authors whether they stand in line at a book store or download it from an online source. And, thanks to the condition of the world we live in, their attention spans last about as long as the smell of a popcorn fart.

Cousin Ricky Skaggs performing

Fame has always been fleeting but perhaps never so much as it is today, with everyone vying for the publics attention. A lot of people want to be more than a flash-in-a-pan, overnight sensation serving a role as he or she fills 15 minutes of air time. In the shuffling madness of the greatest all time losers, the endless parade of pretty people pushing and shove for a moment in the spotlight, there are people like me who prefer to watch from the background. I’m content on the sideline watching the game, close enough to feel the action and smell the sweat but not about to jump into the game and possibly get hurt. It’s that fear of being overly exposed or too greatly scrutinized that prevents us from being the stars that perhaps we were born to be.

Rick Lewis Drummer Thrush

There is a downside to fame. Unless you are made of stone it will burn you. Even then, it will blacken and scorch you. Still, you say you want to be famous. You think you can handle it? Recently I watched an interview with someone famous who probably said it just about right. All you can be is the best you can be at what you really want to do and if you’re good enough at it you won’t need a lot of the hype and nonsense because if you’re good at what you do people will know. But you have to get out there and let your star shine.