Actor’s Privacy and The Dark Side of Fame



“When you’re famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way.”

Marilyn Monroe

Ayn Rand wrote a commentary in the Los Angeles Times, two weeks after Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5, 1962.

Referring to the “sordid and horrifying childhood of Monroe, Rand wrote:

“To survive it and to preserve the kind of spirit she projected on the screen–the radiantly benevolent sense of life, which cannot be faked–was an almost inconceivable psychological achievement that required a heroism of the highest order.

“Whatever scars her past had left were insignificant by comparison.

“She preserved her vision of life through a nightmare struggle, fighting her way to the top. What broke her was the discovery, at the top, of as sordid an evil as the one she had left behind – worse, perhaps, because incomprehensible.

“She had expected to reach the sunlight; she found, instead, a limitless swamp of malice.

“It was a malice of a very special kind. If you want to see her groping struggle to understand it, read the magnificent article in the August 17, 1962, issue of Life magazine.

“It is not actually an article, it is a verbatim transcript of her own words–and the most tragically revealing document published in many years. It is a cry for help, which came too late to be answered.”

“When you’re famous, you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way,” Monroe said. “It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who is she – who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe?

“They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, you know, of any kind of nature – and it won’t hurt your feelings – like it’s happening to your clothing. . . . I don’t understand why people aren’t a little more generous with each other. I don’t like to say this, but I’m afraid there is a lot of envy in this business.”

[From Ayn Rand On Marilyn Monroe (August 1962), Posted by ehehr1955.]

Many creative people, including actors, actively pursue fame, or at least endure it, as a way to advance their careers. But fame may also be driven by hidden psychological needs, and can lead to harmful expectations, distorted thinking and deep emotional challenges.

With all the attention about her movie “Brokeback Mountain,” costar Michelle Williams said at the time she and her then fiance Heath Ledger considered moving to Amsterdam or Greece or somewhere “with no paparazzi or gossip magazines, where we don’t have to feel so self-conscious, because that is the death of a spontaneous, creative, real life. I can’t live my life that way and pretend I’m not bothered by it and that everything’s fine. It deeply disturbs me.” [Interview mag., March 2006]

See comments by Williams about portraying the iconic star in the post:
Michelle Williams on Interpreting Marilyn Monroe.

Scarlett Johansson on being groped

Scarlett JohanssonThe 2006 Golden Globe Awards provided another example of how fame can distort attitudes toward stars. Scarlett Johansson was interviewed by designer Isaac Mizrahi, who actually groped her, claiming he wanted to see how her dress was made.

She graciously said later, “Someone I have never met before fondles me for his own satisfaction. Like he doesn’t know how a dress works. He’s a guy that’s starting his TV career and he’s making a bit of an exciting moment for himself. I can’t be angry at him.”

But his outrageous behavior was an example of how celebrities are often treated.

When you are famous enough, it seems, you are no longer simply a human being to some journalists, for example, who seem to use fame as an excuse to set aside ordinary considerations of respect and propriety.

And people who “need” fame may tolerate a lot of disrespect to get more attention.

Virginia Madsen on sexism

Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”) noted that Lindsay Lohan has been asked questions the media would never ask of boys: “In every interview I read, somebody was asking her about her weight and, ‘Do you throw up in the bathroom?’ I mean, no one asks teenage boys, ‘Do you have pubic hair yet?’ Whereas they’ll ask a teenage girl, ‘Are you still a virgin?'”

> More in my article: The Dark Side of Fame.

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