Downside of fame: spotlight shines too brightly on mistakes

It is rare that I am shocked by the stupidity of celebrities. The usual onslaught of poor wardrobe choices, poorer children’s names and downright despicable public behavior has made me, like most people, almost completely immune to the twenty-second news briefs that seem to constantly interrupt my much-more-important viewing of The Biggest Loser or Law and Order.

In fact, when the radio mentioned Chris Brown and Rihanna’s absence from the Grammys the other night I was more shocked by the fact that I had completely missed the Grammys than by the actions of any one or two celebrities. However, the current rumors that Chris Brown and Rihanna missed this pinnacle performance in front of millions of viewers due to Brown attempting to throttle the life out of his beautiful beloved did shock even my jaded conscious.

Not to downplay the horror of domestic abuse, nor the stupidity of the average Joes who commit it every day, but Brown’s crimes represent a new low on the scale of human intelligence. When the face you choose to bruise is part of a nationwide makeup campaign, it is highly unlikely that no one will notice it. When you skip a nationally publicized event to beat up your significant other, it will probably be hard to justify your actions, and when you conduct your “altercation” standing next to the road outside of your limousine just before the police arrive, your chances of avoiding arrest and eventual publicity are nill.

It is the unfortunate downside of being famous. Your decisions, your very life, suddenly mean much more to other people than they do to you. We normal human beings, while we claim to fear failure, to be afraid to make mistakes and generally be panic-prone, in reality have a healthy margin for error. Famous people lose that margin, that ability we all take for granted to screw up.

Of course, it is possible to take it to the next level, to become famous only by virtue of screwing up. Take Rod Blagojevich, who has become famous solely for being a royal screw up, or Nadya Suleman, famous solely for her obscene reproductive mistake leading to the proliferation of eight more Sulemans in one go.

For the rest of their careers in the public eye, Brown, Blagojevich and Suleman will share one key feature. They will be famous solely for their flaws. We English-language speakers used to use the words “notorious” or “infamous” to describe such anti-heroes, but as of late, the obsession with error is so commonplace that it almost nullifies any benefits of fame that come with extreme success.

I in no way want to imply that Suleman’s healthy and prolific gestational abilities represent a success for humankind, but in the cases of Blagojevich and Brown, they both became somewhat famous for their skills in their respective fields, a.k.a. singing and public service—not domestic abuse and political corruption. In theory, shouldn’t their abilities in one field carry over to the others? If Chris Brown was able to build a musical career and an image, cultivate relationships with other celebrities and contract lucrative events, shouldn’t he have been able to avoid beating up his girlfriend on a public highway while skipping arguably the biggest event in his industry?

Perhaps the new standard for fame in this country should not be the ability to perform any one skill deftly, but instead general stupidity and incompetence. That way, even those of us completely uninterested in celebrity happenings can be so inundated with almost relevant information about subjects like actual criminality that we just can’t avoid them.

Maybe that is why so many celebrities agreed to publish their IQs on YouTube. That way we can judge how much attention to devote to them based on their likelihood to commit a horrendously stupid act in the near future. Personally, I will now be devoting all of my celebrity watching time to the twins from The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, who apparently only managed a 115 per YouTube’s statistics.