What is fame and why do so many people desire it? According to various sources, “fame” is the state of being widely known or recognized; renown, celebrity. It is not the same as notoriety, which indicates infamy; disrepute, known widely and unfavorably, or the idea of notability, meaning prominence and distinction. Mostly, people who want fame want to be liked; and more often than not, fame translates into increased earnings. A lot of famous people make money just because they are famous.
On the surface, fame seems like a benign phenomenon; after all, what could be challenging about it? It depends upon the mindset of the observer.
The negative impact of fame can be seen in the way certain artists, especially those in the gangsta rap genre, copycat negative memes because they see how successful the strategy of using profanity, misogyny and violence is in rap lyrics. They see that fame has served as a recipe for financial success among artists who make music that can harm Black communities. So, it is not unexpected that people aspire to become famous. This in itself is not bad, but the goal is problematic when it provides motivation for outcomes that are deleterious.
One of the challenges of fame, and its often companion, wealth, is they move people to make erroneous decisions about what is valuable in life. This can especially be seen in situations where certain very famous (and wealthy) people garner bad publicity. One of the common refrains of those who criticize the negative behavior of these individuals is they are better than everyone else because they are rich and famous!
The foregoing begs the understanding of the power of fame to shape human values. A person’s wealth and fame do not indicate they are better than others, and consequently, do not automatically warrant emulation.
Basically, what fame means is that the person who is closest to the commonly accepted mores and behavior of a given time frame are the ones who become “famous” during that period. In other words, the dominant mindset of the day is rewarded with fame by those who are in sync with the predominating zeitgeist, i.e., spirit or mood of a period.
Popularity is the cornerstone of fame, and people should know that it merely means people who espouse a particular attitude or taste during a given time period are the ones who get the golden ring!
A common meme often heard among people is that great artists will usually be “discovered” after they are no longer with us. The real message that must be understood is that wealth and its attendant fame are granted to those who happen to create within the framework of a given time period. It does not mean that unsung artists are inferior to those who have attained acclaim.
This is why our youth should be taught to evaluate what it means to be a “quality” person. Money does not make a person valuable in the broader sense of the term; there are many characteristics that need to be assessed before this conclusion is reached.
For example, is the famous person someone who cares about what happens to others? Is that person kind and considerate? Is that person a friend of the human family? Will that person leave valuable ideas for the community’s progeny? Will that person’s actions result in a higher level of achievement for those who are left behind?
The foregoing questions and ideas related to fame and the often-attendant wealth that accompanies it demand that we seriously consider teaching our youth the difference between value as it relates to fame and fortune, and value as it relates to personal characteristics that contribute to the growth and development of people.
Our youth must understand that a notorious gangster is not a better person just because he or she has acquired wealth. A quality individual is not measured by the number of dollars she or he has acquired.
The above-mentioned is not intended to disparage those who have worked hard to achieve what they have; they deserve to be applauded for their accomplishments. What’s important is that we don’t hold people in high esteem just because they are rich and famous.
Our youth must learn to discern the value of the human spirit juxtaposed to fleeting fame connected with the flavor of the moment…that flavor might be extremely distasteful in the long run! Just ask the families of those individuals who lost their lives during the January 6 insurrection allegedly motivated by a certain recent former rich and famous U.S. president! A Luta Continua.