Misguided Virtue

This will be a controversial post. I can already tell. And, that’s not because I intend for it to be that way, but simply, I want to touch on a topic that has been bothering me for quite awhile, and, after some time, finally been able to get a more tangible answer I could articulate.

So, what is that controversial topic?

The reason why people are so enamored by wanting to be actors and celebrities.

Now, this is something that I, myself, wrestled with, and, by observing others, saw that many people around me wrestled with idea as well.

Why do so many people glorify and romanticize the idea of becoming famous?

At first, it seems like an obvious answer. Why wouldn’t you want to be that influential? People seem to listen to you better, and, on top of that, it usually comes with a lot of pretty desirable perks such as money, power, and the ability to do just about whatever you want. Not so bad right?

To most people, being famous, it feels like the only way to true freedom from their miserable life.

It’s not to say everyone who wants to be famous, their lives are miserable, but, compared to what their life could be, it certainly seems better to be rich and famous than to not be.

But, back to my original point, why does the idea of becoming an actor or celebrity seem so enticing, rather than the more difficult route of fame, say, through hard work and diligent effort?  Most people aren’t trying to become the next Einstein or Newton, but they certainly were influential.

So, surprisingly enough, the answer to this question came from an old Disney movie, Pinocchio.

I’m not sure how familiar you are with the movie, but let me give you a brief summary up to where the answer to my question was revealed.

Geppetto had just finished the last touch ups on his wooden marionette, Pinocchio, and that night, he had wished upon a star that his puppet could become a real boy. A few short moments later, a fairy comes from the sky to partially grant that wish by making Pinocchio semi-autonomous. She makes him able to walk and talk by himself, but he was still a puppet. She said, in order to become a real boy, you have to be good, and only then, would Geppetto’s wish finally be granted.

So, Geppetto then wakes up to discover that his puppet can talk, and after some slight adjustments to this new discovery, decides to help Pinocchio become a good boy. So, the next day, Geppetto sends Pinocchio off to school where all the other good little boys and girls go.

Now, if you know the story, at this point, when Pinocchio is off to school, A Fox and a cat snatch him up, and, after discovering he was a “one of a kind” puppet, they convinced him to become an actor, that he could go straight to the top.

Pinocchio, starstruck by this idea, immediately followed along. Then, they’re off all while cheering and singing this song.

Here’s short snippet. You can also find the whole song here

Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee. An actor’s life for me!
A high silk hat, and a silver cane.
A watch of gold, with a diamond chain.
Hi-Diddle-Dee-Day an actor’s life is gay!
It’s great to be a celebrity.
An actor’s life for me!
Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dum. An actors life is fun!
With clothes that come from the finest shop.
And lots of peanuts and soda pop.
Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee an actor’s life for me.
It’s great to be a celebrity.
An actor’s life for me!

So, that then begs the question, what is so wrong about wanting to be an actor?

And this has been a question I couldn’t quite get a solid answer for such a long time.

I want to give some background to how I came about this problem, and this is where it will get controversial, I think.

My wife, she’s Nepali, which, their culture is extremely similar to that of the Indian culture. And, while I’ve spent quite a fair amount of time in their culture, I’ve noticed something extremely common among all of them, and didn’t quite know what to make of it.

They all seemed to want to be actors, dancers, or celebrities. And I could see it in their movies, too. Every movie seemed to really push the idea of the “tough” hero archetype, which many of the guys tended to try to embody this, as well as girls, they tend to go for these types of guys, too. One unique difference in this particular “hero” type was it also focused on the sensitive and creative side as well. This hero could dance, sing, all while taking on 10 or more guys in hand to hand combat. Seemed really odd, to me, that is.

But not only this, many of the people I would have conversations with, they all seemed to fantasize about the idea of becoming an actor, a singer, or a dancer.

I couldn’t quite tell though, why was that? And suddenly it became clear after watching that scene in Pinocchio. Why focus so hard on becoming an actor?

You get to skip the hard work and skip straight to the wealth and fame.

It’s not to say actors don’t go through some hard work, but it certainly gives the appearance of being much easier to become an actor than to, say, achieve fame and fortune through academics.

It’s the whole idea you get to be something you’re not, and still get to go straight to the top. It’s like, why bother going to school? Just get on the stage and your name will be up in lights, and you’ll be rich and famous in no time. And who wouldn’t want that?

It’s the same reason why people play the lottery, go to the casino, make up fake viral stories. They get to skip the part where you put in ten, twenty, thirty years of work, in hopes they’ll become wealthy and powerful. And, it’s not to say it hasn’t worked for some people, and, even so, many of these would-be actors, singers, and dancers, they really are talented! Just take a look at America’s got talent, X-factor, The Voice. They’re all predicated on the idea that you like to see the underdog win.

I think this is a fatal flaw we make is due to the value we place on money and power, and not just us as individuals, but society as a whole. We think, the only way to achieve happiness is through money, that, whatever we’re doing now, it’s not enough to justify the suffering we’re going through, and, if only we had a enough money, we could rectify our undue pain.

But, it doesn’t work like that. The rich, the powerful, the famous, the celebrities, they still face the same problems we face, in fact, sometimes even more so. There’s nothing stopping them to go off and fulfill every little desire they have whether that be sexual, gluttonous, or greedy. It’s not until they find out, after all their human desires have been met, they realize, they still feel lost, they’re still missing something.

My point is, many of us, we’re not aiming at the right things in life, a lot of us, and I think it has something do with, we don’t recognize the potential we all have, we think, the only way we can help others is by first, having all of our needs met, which, it’s true to an extent, but in the end, it seems like misguided virtue. It actually doesn’t take much to go out there and make someone’s life better, surprisingly. And, in turn, it doesn’t take much to make your own life better either, but, in order to make your whole life better, forever, that takes hard work. This is because you have to, for your whole life, find the balance of putting the needs of others before your own, and vice versa. There’s times when you should help others, but other times you can’t and shouldn’t. It’s a delicate game.

For me, at least, I’m trying to figure out the rules, trying to figure out, like Pinocchio, to be a “good boy”.

thanks for reading,