What do the following people have in common?
Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, Charlie Sheen, Rihanna, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and now Justin Bieber?
They are all American entertainers who burst on the scene with All-American charm and good-looks and a certain naïve innocence, only to be transformed into raving lunatics. Three on the list are dead by their own hands, the other five, not yet.
This morning in my round up of the morning news I am treated to a picture of Justin Bieber wearing a gas mask, and a headline informing me that the 19 year old had collapsed onstage and been taken to the hospital. The sad truth is that nobody in America is surprised. This is what happens here, this is what we do to famous people.
It probably doesn’t help keeping one’s own self-image in perspective when at age 19 you already have your own line of designer toothbrushes. Must be difficult to maintain humility when before you’re even old enough to take a drink, you have enough money to buy the brewery. So, seeing Bieber’s boyish face covered with a gas mask surrounded by body guards and paparazzi seems the most normal thing in the world at 7 in the morning. TMZ will have all the details tonight, but the story will be so old hat, it will probably end up third in the queue behind Rihanna’s latest porn video or Lindsay Lohan’s latest court appearance.
Fame in America has become a ticket to insanity, a cycle as predictable as the tides. First we discover the latest fresh face on America’s Got Talent or American Idol. We fall in love with the voice, the style, the possibility of greatness. Then our new hero has hit after hit, sells a billion records, and before they know what has hit them, there’s an “Inc.” at the end of their name. Then come the endorsements, the round the clock exposure, the superhuman schedule, magazine covers, televised interviews. Before long rumors swirl about wild parties, drunkenness and drug use. Then pictures surface of violent clashes with cameramen. A sex tape emerges as sure as the sun rising in the east. They develop a reputation for being “difficult” to work with. Showing up 2 hours late for everything becomes commonplace. Then we’re treated to a series of hook-ups with other equally young, rich, and ungrounded celebrity types. Eventually there will be run-ins with the law, DUI’s, and the unavoidable paternity suit/ unplanned pregnancy. The cycle most likely ends with our hero hold up in a Xanadu of their own making wasting away into madness. The nation mourns at the inevitable news of their tragic and untimely end.
Momma’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be famous.