“If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare me a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German, and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”
― Albert Einstein
There are millions of wonderful singers, actors, artists, writers and generally very talented people but only a very few become famous. Fame once gained must be cherished and held close with the help of public relation companies and image makers to ensure the public image remains untarnished. For fame is fickle and can be washed away in an instant by the tide of public opinion. In the Golden Days of Hollywood celebrities would bask in their public image, protected by the powerful studios, their private lives never up for debate, except for extreme circumstances. Today a YouTube video can raise an unknown personality to instant stardom, conversely a mistimed or inappropriate tweet can destroy years of building a public celebrity persona.
Social media is used by political and corporate institutions to raise new icons as the public persona of their product. Greta Thunberg as the face of the environmental movement is the most current obvious example. Steered along by a hidden committee of environmental activists she has been thrust into the limelight to expound on the dangers of climate change to a young audience who can better relate to a person from their own generation.
In today’s environment it is hard to outlast the fickleness of fame. The personal lives of famous icons from years past have been dissected in the public arena and found wanting by today’s standards. Heroes from the past should not be judged by today’s societal values. Mother Theresa walked the streets of Calcutta and noticed people dying, unnoticed, lying neglected in the streets, while people passed by. So she took them in and recruited other women to take care of these unwanted souls. She became an icon. Last year an article appeared which accused the Sisters of Charity of using unsanitary medical practices in their treatment of the poor. People find it easier to criticize rather than help move the human race forward.
Perhaps one of the greatest out pouring of grief occurred in England at the untimely death of Princess Diana in a 1997 car accident. The response to her death was truly phenomenal and she achieved cult like status in the months following her death. In her case fame was not fickle and increased exponentially after her death. I guess the answer to outlasting the fickleness of fame is to die young.
Fame is a fickle food
Upon a shifting plate
Whose table once a
Guest but not
The second time is set.
Whose crumbs the crows inspect
And with ironic caw
Flap past it to the
Men eat of it and die.