Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Martha Stewart's Sister

In just the past few weeks and including today, I have read articles about the deaths of the following women: Julia Robert's half-sister, Drew Barrymore's half-sister and Martha Stewart's sister. The first two committed suicide, and who could blame them? Even in death they were little but footnotes to their famous siblings. Did they have names? Or careers, or even other family members? Surely they must have, but the most exciting thing to the obit writers was their relation to a celebrity.

Fame is a weird thing. To get it, you've either got to be really good, really bad, or just plain lucky. You can get famous for living next door to a murderer (Kato Kaelin) or by being one yourself (Jeffrey Dahmer). The worst paths to fame are when you survive something horrendous (Anne Frank, Elizabeth Smart) or your child is murdered (John Walsh).

These days fame is out of control, with magazines like Us, InTouch and People and websites like TMZ offering nothing besides a gossipy peek into the lives of the famous. Even worse, little kids choose it as a career goal. Once children wanted to grow up to be firemen or doctors or cowboys; now they want to be famous. And what is fame, after all, but being recognized by people you don't know? That sounds nightmarish to me, since on some days I can barely handle being spotted by the people I do know.

I take comfort in the fact that my own sister is not famous. At least when I die, my obituary will be just about me.

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