Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Our Fame Obsession" or "Have We Learned Nothing from the Tragic Examples of Rebecca Black and Gloria Tesch?"

Hey all.

Time for another Blogging Thursday!

As I do these blogs and explore the variety of topics, they all seem to tie together in some way. Let's face it: in our culture, we have become celebrity obsessed, almost to the point of it being unhealthy.

I will begin by posting this link that was being shared on Facebook the other day:

As a social experiment, his New York guy pretended to be a celebrity...and many fell for it.

According to the article and video, this makes a profound statement about how modern culture is so attracted to pop culture, without any real credibility needed.

Now, I could be wrong, but I'm not sure anyone would have gotten away with that decades ago. Sure, we've always had celebrity obsession to a degree (Elvis and Beatle-mania are a prime example) and we all love our entertainers, but even when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, idolizing Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul before graduating to Nirvana, from what I can recall, you actually had to DO SOMETHING and demonstrate some form of talent and credibility. Maybe areas other than the one I grew up in were a little different, but I just don't recall myself or anyone else I know being obsessed with fame and celebrity because it was 'the thing to do' or to the degree it is now.

*These videos don't have much to do with the post and are being posted for nostalgic purposes. Enjoy!*

***Now, back to our regular blogging.***

Of course, we can sit and argue the cause of this all day and blame things like reality tv, but what about the effect it has?

A few years ago, a young girl (about thirteen or fourteen, I believe) by the name of Rebecca Black came on the scene with a song called "Friday." Four years earlier (in 2008), another by the name of Gloria Tesch released the first book in her series, The Maradonia Saga
What do these ladies have in common? Both put out releases (on vanity labels funded by their families) and were both horribly received by the general public. Both were thrust into the spotlight before either were really ready for it.
I do remember the first time I saw Rebecca Black's "Friday" and yes, like many I thought it was godawful. I remember lamenting once again over the state of the music industry, how it has gone downhill, etc and so on. But then I saw an interview with her and thought she seemed like a very sweet girl and kind of felt bad for ridiculing. Then, her mother is interviewed. I'm watching this woman who seems upset that her daughter is being ridiculed, bullied, and even receiving death threats. I'm thinking to myself, "um, lady, YOU did this."
It was the same thing with Gloria Tesch. Her road to ridicule reportedly began when she received an 'A' on a Creative Writing assignment (the assignment reportedly became the blueprint for the Maradonia stories) at school. So what did her parents do? They said, "Wow, you have some talent here. We would love to see you develop this further and maybe enroll you in a couple creative writing groups and courses for people your age while you finish your education."
HA! Actually, no. That isn't what they did at all.
Based on what I've read, it seemed to go a little more like "OMG!!! Our daughter is J.K Rowling, JRR Tolkien, and Emily Bronte all rolled into one! Let's yank her out of school so she can quickly churn out an entire novel series within the span of a year because she can string a sentence together. We'll bill her as the World's Youngest Novelist, create more hype around her than there really is, and we'll make millions!" The results were a complete disaster. The written work should never have seen the light of day (at least until perhaps Gloria was given the opportunity to grow as a writer and then develop the story with more experience under her belt) and "Team Tesch" practiced less than ethical promotional tactics.

Now, when I was growing up and taking my first dance and music lessons, I would run into the occasional stage mom who seemed to believe with all her heart and soul that her child had far more talent than what was actually there. They were annoying as hell and you just wanted to shake them back into reality. But nowadays, it seems to have increased with reality tv and other outlets giving the impression of overnight fame. Apparently, the parents of Rebecca Black and Gloria Tesch suffered from this delusion, and it was their daughters who received the most flack for it. The two young girls were thrown to the wolves, vulnerable and unprepared.
I cannot say what the true intentions of the parents were. I will assume that they honestly thought they were doing right by their children and simply fell victim to our saturated media culture. Unfortunately, their daughters had to suffer for it.

While Rebecca Black seems to be picking up the pieces and trying to legitimately move on with building her career, I'm not sure if she'll ever truly escape the "Friday" fiasco. I do wish her well, though, and hope she can have a successful career. As for Gloria Tesch, her Maradonia Saga seems to have been derailed with the newer books never released (as of yet, at least).

What I find tragic about both, is that I do wonder what, say, a 25-year-old Rebecca Black or Gloria Tesch could have done if they had been given the opportunity to develop their talents and their own unique style instead of being rushed into the limelight with gimmicks that backfired. Both girls probably could be having decent careers without all the initial ridicule.
Just because your son or daughter can carry a tune, act their way out of a paper bag, or string a sentence together doesn't mean they are ready to be in the public eye yet. The public eye is brutal and unforgiving, especially with the internet now. Allow them to develop their talents, sure, but also allow them a childhood, because that can never be returned. And once something is on the internet, it is there forever.

As I did with the ageism post, I do plan to explore this a little further in future blogging. There's much that can be said on both sides.

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