Unnerving survey of folks desperate for the spotlight.
Ever bragged about
your chance encounter with a movie star? You might be “Basking in Reflected Glory,” demonstrating “Belongingness Theory” or in need of a complete Narcissism Personality Inventory.
In Fame Junkies, NPR commentator Jake Halpern finds a dizzying array of academic theory to help explore America’s obsession with notoriety. His achievement lies in turning what could be dismissed as psychobabble into a solid treatise on a merit-based culture that’s been blindsided by self-esteem.
From the bloated extravaganza of a kid’s talent expo, to the Association of Celebrity Personal Assistants (who knew?), to interviews with aging character actors at Hollywood’s Motion Picture Home, Halpern turns a jaundiced but sympathetic eye onto a subculture often blindly craving media attention.
It is a subculture, though, so Halpern’s thesis falters somewhat when he suggests that we are all complicit in the tragicomic dreams of wannabes. Still, there is no denying that even one water-cooler conversation about Brangelina indicates a vested interest in people we do not know, and with whom we share, ultimately, nothing. Talk about a monkey on your back.