For as much as any one of us ever entertains dreams of fame or notoriety, I can say with some certainty that most of us don't actually want that lifestyle. It might be fun to daydream about money and mansions and being recognized for doing something that we love, but if we really stop and think about fame, we're perfectly happy going home at night not having spent our days fending off the paparazzi or crazy fans, and perfectly happy going to the grocery store in our pj's, knowing that no one is going to take pictures of us and make public commentary on our fashion decisions (or lack thereof).
Two "news" stories broke over the last week that should confirm for many of us that we'd rather not be living famous, public lives.
The first story concerns racy pictures of Grady Sizemore that somehow found their way onto the internet for the world to see. As quickly as there was one headline about the pictures being posted, there was another headline about Sizemore (and MLB) wanting the offending parties to take them down. If he weren't a celebrity, no one would have cared about these pictures, that's true. At the same time, this isn't an uncommon occurrence. Every few months, there's a new story about a celebrity who took some racy pictures or made a racy video that suddenly showed up on the internet. Isn't there a lesson to be learned here? If you're a celebrity, just don't take those sorts of pictures or make those sorts of videos! You'd think that they would have learned. Because these sorts of things are bound to leak out into public view. That's the nature of being a celebrity. Even your private life isn't so private.
The other story is the mysterious Tiger Woods car crash. While the moral of the Sizemore story is clear (once you're famous, people will find ways of making your private life public, so take care with the things you do even in private), the moral of the Woods story isn't so clear. The real debate isn't what Woods should or shouldn't have done differently, it is about what the public and the media should or shouldn't have done differently. I find it appalling that we, the public, try to act like we have a right to know everything about a famous person's private life. As if they somehow owe us this information. I loathe the current internet "news" climate, where breaking the story first is more important than breaking it well, and where the only way to survive is to provide the headlines that people want to see, even if there's nothing much to report on. Traditional news media has to dabble in this sort of celebrity "news" in order to keep up with the gossip sites.
There's plenty of blame to go around in these and other similar situations. Is it smart to email racy pictures of yourself to your girlfriend if you're Grady Sizemore? Probably not. Is it your own fault that the public really wants to see those pictures when they happen to leak? Probably not. Does the public's thirst for gossip disguised as news perpetuate these Sizemore and Woods sorts of situations? Probably. Does our media culture feed on these situations because it makes them money? Probably.
We all live two lives - our public and our private lives. Every time we leave our house, we are entering the sphere of the public. And none of us are immune to the possibility that our private lives become more public than we would like them to be. But in the realm of celebrity, the already-small sphere of private life seems to be continually shrinking. I think it's a sad commentary on all of the rest of us that this is the case. It makes me glad I'm not (and never will be) famous.