by Camille Gasser
Who’s your celebrity crush?
Maybe there’s an actor you’ve been drooling over for the past six months: you’re caught dreaming about abs carved out of heavenly marble, or maybe a foreign accent that just oozes with charm and beauty.
Maybe there’s a band: each song, music video, live performance, and B-side they’ve produced litters your overflowing iPod; stacks of CDs sit proudly on your desk, providing a tangible sense of ownership and dedication that an mp3 simply can’t offer.
We live in a world dominated by those more ‘important’ than us. We read about their personal lives on Twitter, as if their mundane actions will somehow offer us consolation in knowing they do normal things too.
We like their movies and CDs and TV shows on Facebook. We stalk—okay, “passionately follow”—their fan-pages, clinging to the off chance that maybe, just maybe, our adoring words will pull a smile from their famous lips.
Most of the modern population must admit to being drawn into the irrational, wishful world of fandom.
Perhaps this celebrity-induced intoxication stems from a hopelessly attractive face or a charismatic smile; maybe it originates simply from a fervent respect for another’s talents or accomplishments. Either way, our society’s fixation with the rich and famous is very real and widespread.
And it’s exhausting.
This past summer, I leaped across the pond to London for a 12-day getaway before the start of school. Double-decker bus tours and walks through luscious English gardens were dotted with frequent voyages to the West End: London’s legendary theater district.
I just so happened to be in the right place at the perfect time.
While I was in London, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing was in the prime of its performance. And this particular play starred a man that I’d recently taken to “passionately following”: David Tennant—a Scottish actor known widely for his role in the British television series Doctor Who.
To my glee (and perhaps at the cost of my mom’s eardrums), I soon found myself with a ticket: seventh row, 7:30 pm on a Friday night.
I’d seen David Tennant act on television, of course—I’d sniffed back tears through an emotional farewell, and giggled at a particularly witty line.
Still, everything fell miles short in comparison to this live theater piece. Three hours of euphoria skipped by, and I found myself completely overwhelmed with admiration and awe.
My mood had escalated past joy far before the ruby-red curtains of the theater swished shut; yet, my mission remained incomplete.
I knew that every night following the Shakespearean production, David would emerge from the stage door, sign a score of autographs, and retreat back inside his guarded room.
Fast forward several minutes, and you find me, poster in hand, sprinting around the theater only to find myself colliding with a crescent-shaped mass of people surrounding the stage door. Soon enough, the stars emerged, and my world exploded.
My lungs clawed at the stuffy air as I propelled myself towards the front. My aching calf muscles screamed in protest, but still I stretched up and over, thrusting my poster above me like a beacon of hope.
My devotion to the actor left me sore and exhausted, and all for a chance at the loopy scrawl of a charming celebrity.
I got the autograph. I think it was worth it.
The poster now hangs proudly on my wall, signed with a silver sharpie—a tiny, fragmented connection between a world-famous actor and regular me.
Despite all this, sometimes I can’t help but keep dreaming: I just want to talk to him. I just want him to know my name.
Some may find the world’s addiction to celebrities harmful; I disagree. Perhaps certain habits of admiration are a bit excessive, but among that mindless affection is real respect and inspiration. We all need someone to look up to for confidence and encouragement, someone whose mere image—or signature—can cheer you up on a bad day.
The key lies in understanding the limits. Of course these celebrities are special. They provide gifts—gifts of art, music, talent, intelligence, and more. But even though it’s hard to tell through crowds of screaming fans, they’re just people.
I’ve been lucky in the world of fandom: I’ve watched David Tennant act on television, witnessed him perform for a live audience, and captured his signature.
But when I find myself wishing for a bit more, I remember to take a step back, and realize that he’s not the key to my happiness. His autograph is just a name that makes me smile. He’s just a talented actor—just a man.
Besides, who knows? Maybe the next David Tennant is the drama kid who is sitting right next to me in my English class.
Number One Fan
by Camille Gasser