12:36 pm - Monday, Jul. 14, 2003
Sat 7/11/03 11:23 am
I saw the movie Fame seven or eight times when it first came out.
It was playing at the State Theater, which, if I'm remembering correctly, was on M.A.C. in East Lansing (Or was it on Abbott? In any case, it's a theater that was torn down years ago).
It was 1980. I'd graduated high school that year and moved to Lansing, the idea being to go to community college, get my grades up, then transfer to Michigan State (If you know the story already, you know things didn't quite work out that way). From there, it would be off to Broadway, and inevitable, pre-ordained fame and fortune (And if you've been reading along in here, you know that didn't happen either. Not yet, anyway).
Just the title of the movie was exciting–Fame.
"I'm gonna live forever...I'm gonna learn how to fly..."
I knew it was a movie, of course, but I also knew there was a real "High School Of Performing Arts", and I remember, fresh out of high school myself, being so envious of kids getting an education in something they actually wanted to do. Something that mattered to them. Something they loved.
And of course, what an appealing fantasy, those scenes where kids break into a spontaneous song-and-dance in the lunch room, or start dancing in the street. Didn't happen too much at good old D.H.S.–You could barely get kids to dance at the school dances, let alone in the cafeteria!-- but it was a fantasy I wanted to live in.
I remember how even the shit the main characters go through (And it's actually a pretty tough movie that way) was exciting to me. It was so much more dramatic than my boring life (Though when I think about it now, I'd had enough drama in my life at that point for a couple movies. But no one was shelling out money to see it).
I'm writing all this because I just bought the DVD last night (A Borders perk is "Employee Appreciation Days", which are a couple weekends a few times a year where we get 40% off merchandise). And watching the film a short time ago brought back a lot of memories (Like how I wanted to turn heads when I danced, like "Leroy", and actually was a good dancer. But sadly, I wasn't ever going to be sexy (Or black, for that matter).. I also remember how I had to go to the lobby the first number of times I saw the movie, when "Coco" gets conned by a sleazy "director" into going up to his apartment and "auditioning" for him. I feel a little sentimental about the kid who was that sensitive, and wonder if anything in a movie now could send me running out to the lobby till it was over).
I've always wanted to be famous.
I equated it with "love" at some level. I thought it would "prove" something, something of my worth, my value as a person. I imagine I thought being "famous" meant having a better life, maybe even being better somehow.
I felt like I was nothing, so being a famous actor would prove that, far from being "nothing", I was actually better than other people.
I wasn't a nobody--I mattered.
As years passed, the dream took something of a beating. I got an inkling of how very uphill that uphill climb would be, and I realized that I didn't look like a movie star. I looked inside myself, and doubted that I could make it.
And I looked at famous people, famous people with drug habits, famous people who killed themselves, famous people who had been married five or six times, famous people who, far from having a "better" life than regular people, seemed more unhappy and screwed up.
And more recently, I've seen the line between "famous" and "infamous" be pretty much completely erased. Now, as long as you're willing to do anything for attention, you'll get your moment in front of the camera. Commit a big enough crime, lie on a big enough scale, blow the president, and there's a book and movie deal coming your way.
"Fame" is not really so much a badge of accomplishment, as it is a sign of weakness and need.
But I still want it.
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