Special, special, what do you get?

4 08 2013

Pressed on the topic of Hitler, Borges said that “of course I hate and loathe him. His anti-Semitism was very foolish.” This is hard to read because, although we should know better, it’s difficult to stop ourselves expecting wisdom from a person who happens to be a genius.

—Mark O’Connell

I used to believe that talented people were better people.

I wouldn’t have put it that way, back then, don’t know that I even knew I believed this, but I almost certainly did. If you were talented you were special, and if you were special, you were special all the way through.

I think this bias cuts through our celebrity culture, such that fame itself is a signifier of specialness. We want to meet, become friends with these celebrities, hoping that by virtue of being picked by someone special, we’ll become special ourselves.

I don’t want to push that too hard, not least because there’s also a knowingness about this desire, and jokes about “My boyfriend George Clooney” poke holes in the whole cloth of celebrity-dom. Still, why else would any of us who are not-famous and not-friends of the famous care enough about them to make them famous unless we though there was something more to them than [what led them to] the fame itself?

Anyway, it was well into adulthood before I even became aware of this equation, and while I’ve pretty much disabuse myself of the notion, those times that I have met famous folk (mostly actors, mostly while working at Big & National Bookstore), I’ve had to remind myself that they are just folks.

Yes, just-folks with name recognition, just-folks with talent, but when not on stage or in front of a camera, just folks, full stop.

Still, it must be said: I don’t tell my friends when I meet non-famous just-folks.