Listen, I really don’t know why I’m motivated to write based on something Selena Gomez said, either. So, just go with me here.
In all honestly, I don't really care much for celebrity culture. I'm a big fan of film and television, but more so for the artistic/creative elements involved in crafting stories, filming them, editing them, and some of the acting performances involved. I have a select few actors/actresses whose work I always check out. And there are some singer/songwriter/musicians whose work I’m also always prone to check out. Beyond their work though, their celebrity lifestyles interest me in no way. I’m unashamedly a John Mayer fan because he’s a phenomenal guitar player and his work with the John Mayer Trio and his album Continuum was amazing, but I always wanted to roll my eyes as his exploits as a celebrity played out on the internet and gossip rags. Today I saw a story come across my news feed that Selena Gomez took a moment to address all of her adult "haters" in an interview with E!. A network that isn't exactly known as a hub for good journalism. Or useful information at all. And I typically wouldn’t care, in the slightest, what a Selena Gomez has to say about anything. However, in her interview, Selena hit out at the adults who criticize her by saying;
“It’s grown-ups and I don’t get it. It just baffles me,” she said. “I wish I could just sit them down and say, ‘What were you doing at 15? What were you doing at 18? What were you doing at 21?’ Because I can guarantee you it’s not half of what I’ve done."
And it's stuff like this that really makes one roll the eyes. It's a shot at the regular, non-celebrity crowd who is insignificant and languishes in relative obscurity in her eyes. And, in some ways, this is typical of celebrity culture. And it’s not like they are solely responsible for it; we lift them up on pedestals and give them platforms to share their opinions about a great many things. And, sadly, we tend to accept those opinions without any discernment or real objective thought. We just gobble it up.
The problem with all of her "accomplishments" is that she merely had to show up. She's an average talent. There are loads of other actresses and vocalists out there who can do what she does, and in more than a few cases, they do it better. Selena Gomez is a product of the Disney Marketing Machine, much in the same way that folks like the Jonas Bros, Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato are. If the team at Disney never picks up Selena Gomez... no one ever even hears of Selena Gomez. It's just that simple. To sit and say she's exceptional and that's why she is "successful" is beyond naive. Aside from Disney’s efforts, she, like many celebrities, has a team comprised of a manager and publicist/PR team who basically keep her in the spotlight, and get her jobs. Are we really to believe Selena is out there pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, working phone calls, and getting her own auditions and jobs? No, her manager makes the calls and sets the appointments. Do you really believe Selena sits down and writes her own music? No. Again, Gomez just has to show up. And, what may be the silliest part of this, is that whatever criticism she receives is most likely self-inflicted. From what I can gather, she gets a ton of flack for her social endeavors. Most notably an on-again, off-again relationship with resident Canadian tough guy crooner, Justin Bieber. I’d be willing to guess that if you’re reading this you may struggle to name a show she has been in or a song she has sung, but you knew she dated Bieber, didn’t ya? Yea, you did. But, as I've already mentioned, Gomez probably has a publicist and PR team, and they're sole purpose is to keep her in the public eye. Otherwise her ability to work is greatly diminished. It's their job to keep their clients front and center in the public's eye and relevant. And such is the reason why Gomez is probably just as responsible for the criticism as the adults she's trying to harpoon. Putting yourself out there in front of the cameras from behind the velvet ropes at a premiere or club opening, or just hanging on the arm of Justin Bieber will get you that sort of attention.
The issue with all of this is that there are kids, probably even some adults, that aspire to be like Gomez and other celebrities much like her. Or, worse yet, they aspire to have her perceived level of success at all costs. We all want our 15 minutes, and so we aspire to the great heights of folks like Gomez, who, in 10 years will only be remembered by the tweens who had her posters stuck to their walls and her MP3s on their iPods/iPhones. The reality is that she will join the ranks of you and me when she fades away into obscurity. Simply put: her celebrity will live on in the vapor of nostalgia. The only difference is you and I are used to it, so we'll probably be able to better manage the reality of our own obscurity better than a Selena Gomez will. She can take jabs at adults who criticize her and try to hide behind what she believes to be an exceptional resume of work, but the fact for anyone grounded in reality is that Selena Gomez will leave no lasting impression upon music, television, and cinema. I’m not trying to be mean-spirited towards Selena Gomez, but this is the reality of the celebrity life that many of us wish we had. And it is, in many ways, an unhealthy pursuit.
You may get your 15 minutes of fame, but ultimately they probably won't really be worth anything. What was I doing between the ages of 15 and 21, Selena? At 15, I was hanging out with my friends, playing in bands. At 16, 17, and 18 I was writing music and gigging out with my friends in places other 16, 17, and 18 year olds couldn’t even get into. From there on out, I went on to college, graduated with a degree, attended a graduate program, got married, worked as a certified teacher, bought a home, and am now the father of two wonderful children. Just last weekend I did some landscaping outside of our modest home in NW Ohio. I've lived a good, full life in my short 32 years. And, that's the story of countless other adults out there who haven't lived the "exceptional" and "successful" life of a Selena Gomez. And, quite frankly, that's completely okay. She can tout her work between the ages of 15 and 21, but what is there beyond that for her? Who knows, only she can answer that, but I can say that history has never been all that kind in regards to the careers of actors, actresses, and pop music performers.
The fact is, living in obscurity can be a good and noble thing. If you aspire to live a quiet, humble, and ordinary life... that's okay and a good thing to aspire to. You lived something real, because, let's be honest, for a moment: the life of a celebrity just isn't real.
I want to encourage anyone reading this not to fear an ordinary life. Celebrity life ≠ a good life. Granted, there are many truly gifted performers out there who do have an amazing body of work that will leave a lasting impression on the world of their particular creative craft. And some of them are even humble folks who live respectable lives. That’s all fine and well, but I wouldn’t say that is the norm in the world of celebrity. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with living an “ordinary” life. It’s a good thing.