The Bling Ring: Hollywood’s Marriage of Fame and Success

Hollywood.

It is a symbol of fame – a small pie that it seems everyone wants a piece of. (And I do mean everyone). Your dentist? Sings show tunes under his breath as he tries to ignore yours. The grocery store clerk? Saving up his money to enter his screenplay in writing contests. You?

We know Hollywood as the oh, so dreamy destination for anyone who aspires to be anything. To most people, fame is the light at the end of the tunnel, the reason to wake up in the morning. It’s “the dream”.

I think that the line between fame and success has been blurred into one; it’s the difference between wanting to be on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and wanting to do something worthy of being on the show.

Of course, add two letters to the beginning of the word famous, and it’s not so coveted anymore (infamous) Ellen has had her fair share of guests who have become “famous” in an unconventional way for an unexpected reason. (Take, for example, the young girl who was filming a hair tutorial for her Youtube channel and accidently burned off a lock of her hair).

My first thought was that these people didn’t do something ‘good’ for the world, but then I remembered Ellen’s slogan: “you never know what funny can do”. Of course, you’d feel guilty laughing at this young girl, but her situation was comical and she was able to make light of it. Making people laugh, even though not some people’s intention, is a way of doing good for  the world.

To do, versus to be. Do you want to be someone amazing, or simply do something amazing? Is there really that big of a difference?

Considering many people who are considered famous are not great role models – and it just takes one look at the news to find specific examples – I think the idea of fame has been glorified and spun into a tall tale worthy of a Disney movie.

A really great book about the exaggeration of fame is The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales. This book, based on true events, tell the story of a group of fame-obsessed teenagers who went on bulgary sprees in the homes of their idols. For example they robbed Paris Hilton, because they idolized her.

"Living the dream... one heist at a time."
“Living the dream… one heist at a time.”

The group of teenagers behind the burglaries lived close to Hollywood. They often wore the clothing that they stole; to them, it was all about trying to reach fame, and act like they were already famous. The way that they did this was by committing these crimes, and then gaining popularity and notoriety through the subsequent lawsuits, trials, and spin offs of their real life story (in addition to the book, there is also a movie).

It’s understandable that many people want to be “famous”; however, I think that instead of placing the focus on the glitzy lifestyle of movie stars, the emphasis should be on inspiring others and doing positive things for the world around you. There’s a difference between aspiring to “make it big”and “make a difference”.

I have read a lot of articles recently that suggest something that I think is in the back of most people’s minds: being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Paparazzi follow you around, your every word and action has the potential to end up on the front of a national magazine or international website, and everyone has their own opinion on your life (which they know quite a lot about).

Speaking of knowing every little detail about a celebrity's life...
Speaking of knowing every little detail about a celebrity’s life…

It seems to me that the best way to combat this is to have pure intentions. For example, helping others because you really want to help them as opposed to helping them just to have your name in the news. If you have these roots, even if you feel unsuccessful in your endeavors, you will being staying true to yourself; whereas if you don’t, every little failure will feel like a major setback because you have not yet become “famous”.

I don’t think anyone should feel discouraged when they encounter small setbacks or make small mistakes on the path to their dream. When these do happen – because really, they’re almost inevitable – it is important to remember that you’re not on the road to “fame”. You’re on the road to your own dream, and your own version of success.

The next time you see an example of the coveted Hollywood lifestyle – which could be as soon as the next time you turn on your television – remember that there is a huge difference between being of person of character and being someone who seeks only fame and recognition. Hollywood movies might bring in big bucks in the box office, but they can’t compare to people who truly want to make a difference.

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