'Superproducer' Mutt Lange once said that fame has no upside, that it's all bad things. Better to be rich! After all, a billionaire can ride the bus in sweats, but a famous person would be mobbed, uploaded onto YouTube, speculated upon, groped. And thanks to a rush of technology over the last decade or so, the 'off switch' on fame has been ripped out of its socket, and it's a serious problem for some musicians.
It seems that technology's gifts come wrapped with very good and very bad things. After all, the walls between artist and fan are getting completely torn down, which means more access but far less privacy for artists who've made it. Which means, there's a decent chance your favorite artist might be a complete asshole when you finally get your 'moment,' thanks partly to media oversaturation. All the downsides of musical fame have now been amplified by a factor of about 100.
So how is this different than say, 2002? This isn't just about the internet, it's also about the ecosystem of mobile devices, the ubiquity of portable cameras and camcorders, and all their online plug-ins. Like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and one-to-one protocols like texting. These platforms and technologies are all about recording and sharing life moments - non-stop - and everyone is armed.
Multiply that millions of times over, and we're starting to witness some meltdowns. Just look at an older star like Tommy Lee. He can't take all the picture-taking, all the Facebook uploads, the onslaught or recording and tagging. It's just way too much, it's non-stop, and it all spilled into a Facebook rant to nearly two million confused fans.
Which means your favorite artist may also be having difficulty with the extreme always-on thing, and yes, might be a complete asshole when you finally meet them. So what happens next, with your appreciation of that person's music after such an encounter? A good friend of mine simply couldn't listen the same way after meeting his revered artist, he listened less, it was always an asterisk in his mind. The artist-to-fan relationship, which is incredibly personal yet ultimately unmanageable on a one-to-one level, had fallen apart for him. Yet the fan relationship has never been more important, it's never been more critical to be accessible and cool with fans!
Of course, the problem is endemic to fame, and it has been for decades, maybe centuries. But these days, it goes far beyond airports and restaurants, it's more than the guy who wants to shake your hand in the men's room. Because that guy now wants to shake your hand and take your picture and upload it and tag you for millions to see.
Gradually, stars and their handlers are figuring this stuff out. Teenagers have a natural advantage here, the Justin Biebers and One Directions of the world who never really had a chasm to cross. But others, like Amanda Palmer, are embracing and redefining what a fan relationship is all about, and teaching us about the personalities and practices that do well here.
And it's not all good. I'd say you have to be pathologically 'on' in this environment, maybe it helps to need this in an unnatural way (consult your shrink). Whatever it is, 'embracing it' has to be a full-blown lifestyle and passion, and if you don't like it, there's always obscurity waiting to take you back.
/paul. Written while listening to Mos Def and RJD2.
welcome to hell Wednesday, July 25, 2012
You cannot amplify fame. It either exists or not. Trying to hype the tech bubble is not going to lure more idiots in the game. It has reached its growth peak and now we are witnessing the inevidable deflation. It is going to be a wild ride to the bottom.
Myles na Gopaleen Wednesday, July 25, 2012
It's such a drag when I leave my $10 million mansion in my maserati and go to the 7-11 for a slushy. There is always some a-hole there who wants my attention.
I guess all I can do is hang out by the pool at my vacation home in Capri with all of my other rich friends, then take the limo down to my yacht.
Afterwards I'll throw a party have a few drinks a few lines then get on a social media site and complain to my millions of fans about how millions of people can't get enough of me.
panda_bear Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Everything about fame has changed.
It's a stupid thing to want UNLESS you want to play a totally different game that involves NO privacy and total TMZ all the time.
THAT is what Tommy Lee doesn't get.
@mclff Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Anand Friday, July 27, 2012
I see the comments that have no sympathy for the famous. Yes, fame has awesome rewards - BUT the downsides we're not discussing are for every person that wants to adore a famous person is a person that deeply resents him and wants to cause him harm from psycho haters to frivolous lawsuits (the nail that stands out gets pounded down).
I think what this article is addressing, is that before the all of this technological advancement, it was easier for a famous person to "turn it off." Not only in real-time for them, but in the minds of the general public. In other words, if you publicist wasn't pushing you to the media - people would eventually forget about you. That's still a bit true today, but it takes longer for enemies and crazy psycho haters to pay attention to someone else because your publicist is no longer the only gatekeeper.
It is interesting. All though, given the saturation of content - it's safe to say Tommy Lee can be forgotten about is he just stayed indoors for a month.
puke Friday, July 27, 2012
When Tommy Lee started making money and getting recognition there was no TMZ, there was no Facebook, no smart phones, no digital cameras. Technology amplifies fame - I think that's an honest statement. Fame is all about hits and shares and tags, it's all about technology these days.
To be fair, AC/DC was the best selling band of the 80s (Motley didn't have a #1 til the end of '89) and I doubt anyone hounds Malcom Young for pics everywhere he goes. They probably wouldn't even recognize him. Tommy happens to stand out like a sore thumb because of his image. That's his own doing.