Stephen Fry on fame

3 10 2007
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A good metaphor for fame is the magnifying glass. It makes larger (which is what magnify means) exposing flaws as well as qualities. The blackheads and dirty pores are there for all to see. Like a magnifying glass fame can distort, it can invert and it can (with the glare of publicity behind it) focus the light into a terrible heat that burns the subject until they shrivel into nothing.

In some professions fame is a by-product, an incidental, a “way of keeping score”. If you are a brilliant cricketer, one of the best in the world, then as many as two billion people might know who you are. Even more if you are a successful footballer. A maximum of a quarter of a billion will know who you are if you are a successful American footballer, but at least 5 billion will know you if you are an American footballer accused of murdering your wife and her lover. The OJ pheme buried itself deep in all of us and will, one suspects, remain in circulation for a long time. But then society thought the same of the Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle scandal which is now, if not an obscure footnote, certainly far from being the cause celebre of the century despite its seismic notoriety at the time.

More here.




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