I opened the Times newspaper the other day, glossed over the first few pages given over to latest world events and looked beyond.
My attention was actually caught by a short article on page 19, entitled,
“What do today’s youngsters want to be? Just happy.” (Joanna Sugden – The Times)
I suspect that if you asked any age group to truly declare their deepest wants then their answers might be the same. Don’t we all prize happiness above all else?
A survey was apparently carried out to extract this gem of information. Here are a few statistics to mull over:
Apparently 33% of girls aged between 8 and 16 years, told The National Literacy Trust that when they grow up they just want to be happy. Only 3.5% claimed they aspire to achieve celebrity status. 5.1 % of boys crave celebrity status, the rest saw being a good citizen, being happy and earning lots of money as their aim.
That’s good isn’t it? Our youngsters have their feet screwed firmly to the ground. Their ambitions remain intact but they are not necessarily craving the glitter and glamour of supposed ‘Celebrity-dom’.
Happiness, by definition, implies good health and contentment with one’s lot. I suppose it could be argued that becoming a celebrity might be seen as a stage of this happiness and rightly or wrongly, some might aspire to it for that reason.
Rather than getting me embroiled in the rights or wrongs of ‘celebrity’ as a state, the article got me thinking about my own early hopes and dreams. Have I achieved any of them? Did I value happiness above all else? The answer is of course that yes, I have always valued happiness, health and family above all else but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had and achieved, other ambitions.
I have always aspired to be a good writer, to get published, to be well known in that field. However, do I want to be famous – do I want to reach celebrity status?
Fame and fortune appeal only in the vaguest forms. Yes, I would love to have a best seller under my belt and I would love my name to be bandied about in Literacy circles across the country but do I want to be recognised as I walk down the street? Do I want to be invited on chat shows and to have to handle all the publicity that writing a best seller might entail?
I don’t think so.
One of the biggest attractions of writing is that it can be done alone, without interruptions, without interference. One doesn’t have to dress up, put on a face or dodge the photographers waiting at the stage door. Indeed, one can write in bed, in the bath – just about anywhere. I doubt I would be so drawn to it if the act required the constant press coverage and media attention that other professions might entail.
Mind you, exactly what is a celebrity these days? Judging from ‘Big Brother ‘and ‘I’m a Celebrity get me Out of Here’ the status can be applied to just about anyone who has ever appeared in the press. Thus Footballers’ Wives and Girlfriends (WAGS), Politician’s Official Partners and Lovers (POPLs)can all claim the title. Pop stars can claim it. Even the people who present the pop stars on TV can claim it.
Wikipedia says: A celebrity, also referred to as a celeb in popular culture, is a person who has a prominent profile in the media and is easily recognised. Celebrity status might be associated with certain professions and frequent appearances in the media. It can arise as a result of career planning but it can also arise by accident or as a result of infamy.
Woah! Infamy? The opposite of fame?
Hmm, so being notorious (The Great Train Robbers spring to mind) brings its own type of celebrity status.
Presumably, most who would hunger for Celebrity status would also hunger for money and a certain lifestyle but this is not a pre-given it seems.
Being a celebrity gets one into places, gets that table that no one else can book. Being a celebrity means that as you walk down the street, perfect strangers ask for your autograph or whisper about you as you pass. Being a celebrity can be a transient thing – this month’s flavour may not be the next. Being a celebrity is probably fine if you are in the mood for it. It must be a terrible burden when you are not.
So, I don’t think I will aim for celebrity status. If anyone asks me, I shall say that I too, just want to be happy.
I don’t want to be famous …
…but I suppose it would be nice to be remembered for something long after I have gone!