I Want To Be Kim Kardashian or The Horror of the American Dream
01/03/2012 § 1 Comment
I had a dream last night that the brakes on my car had given out, that I was driving down the highway at a high rate of speed. I looked at the speedometer and saw the hand inch past 70 mph, fly past 80, and ultimately top out at 110 where the speedometer stops keeping track. But I was blissfully unaware of my brake situation. I was unaware until I saw something strange in front of me. Where there should have been the Mass Pike tolls was just a giant brick wall. I desperately pumped the brakes. Nothing—and with great speed I crashed into the wall.
When I woke up my radio was on. My radio is always on. The first thing I heard was something about Lady Gaga’s New Year’s Eve performance. Not about her music but something about her outfit. I was ready to leap back into the dream and accept the consequences of the crash. I’m tired of hearing about celebrities. But I’m not some “throw away your idiot box” or “I only listen to vinyl” asshole. I’ve seen my fair share of Jersey Shore. Something just snapped today.
I know this isn’t breaking news: we are a nation obsessed with celebrities. Or you could say I am an individual obsessed with the obsession of our nation’s obsession. At times it’s a passing obsession—an article that catches your eye in the doctor’s waiting room, a quick glance at the latest Kris Humphries/Kim Kardashian drama (God I hope they work it out!). Maybe I’ll read the first couple of sentences about Katy Perry and Russell Brand when Yahoo! tells me I should. In the checkout line I can learn about the new Aniston/Jolie drama. But when I pay for my groceries it’s over. Maybe it’s not all that bad. I want to believe that. But look at what I know without even trying. Jesus it’s bad.
I want to believe we aren’t a nation of stalkers, of sycophants, of ball lickers. Perhaps, at one point in time, we weren’t. But let’s look hard at ourselves. Or to make it easier I’ll take a look at myself. I believe my morning wasn’t that much different than yours: wake up, brew a pot of coffee, check Facebook, check Twitter. It took 89 tweets before I came across one from someone who I had actually met in person. It was from a college professor I had 10 years ago. I scanned though 50 Facebook posts before I got bored. I actually had met 30 of the 50 of posters in person. But man I felt like a stalker. There was no reason for me to know where people were currently living let alone what they were having for breakfast.
I’m no better than you. I don’t pretend to be. I’m posting a piece on a blog. I want to be Kim Kardashian. I want to believe someone will listen to me. I want to believe I matter. I want to believe what I have to say means something. We’re all the same. We all breathe the same breath. Social networking simply allowed us to spew our neurosis onto everyone in a nice ‘timeline.’ I fear rejection. You fear rejection. I fear you will reject this. I want you to retweet this, I want you to ‘like’ this. We fear rejection like we fear the brakes in our cars will give out. We don’t really think about it until it happens and by then it’s too late.
The great thing about celebrities is that even when they are rejected they aren’t. Even their rejection turns into a ‘story of triumph.’ At worst it’s publicity. Perhaps that is why they truly do get stalkers—I mean the kind that show up on their doorsteps. The celebrities seem to have it all. Oh the Great American Dream. The stalkers do no not want the celebrity. They want acceptance. They want the Dream. They want love. I believe this to be an American phenomena. Oh the horror of the American Dream. I wonder if there are mental disorders that are specifically ‘American.’ I wonder when ‘stalking’ started. Did people stalk Jesus? Did people stalk Aristotle?
The documentary ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ drives me toward the conclusion we have an American Fame Disorder. This stalking seems to be completely American:
The documentary is sad and scary. Watch it if you get a chance and tell me what you think. As a society why do we suffer from such a lack of love? Why did these two people turn to Tiffany for love? Is it isolation? Is it depression? It’s perhaps both. It most likely is both with a mind numbing cocktail of fear and rejection. But it’s also something more. It’s the failure of the American Dream. And when something fails we as a nation love to point fingers. It’s the easiest thing to do. But this goes beyond politics and finger pointing. We are taught by television: American Idol, The X Factor, Hell’s Kitchen, America’s Got Talent—that if you’re not the best you’re worthless. We believe Ricky Bobby: If you’re not first you’re last. Television is America’s God. It’s an unrelenting assault on the average person’s self-esteem. But it also makes us feel better. We watch the poor souls of these shows talk about themselves as if they’re the greatest singers since Billie Holliday. Reality is hell. How sad is it to see some kid from a small town where everyone tells him he’s a great singer get judged by three panelists who have already achieved the American Dream? At least in the past he could fail privately. At least that kid could’ve still been the star of his town.
We all fail. Even the greatest poets have been rejected by the shittiest magazines. Walt Whitman wrote rave reviews for his own poems. But America has brought failure to an art form—a public display of ridicule—a display so nauseating I can’t turn my head. I’m guilty. I watch. I’m the one who causes excessive traffic simply to catch a glimpse of the crash. I cause the curiosity factor on the freeway.
I’ve been away for a few hours and saw my title ‘The Horror of The American Dream.” Perhaps it’s that–this horror that we have to do something huge with our lives. That it’s not ok to be unknown. That it’s not ok to be happy in something simple. That is the horror I feel. It’s America Baby. Dream big or go home. But I don’t dream big. I don’t know what a big dream should feel like. I don’t dream for millions of dollars. I don’t dream for fame. I guess I dream for respect in some sense but even then I don’t really care. Maybe I don’t want to be Kim. What is the American Dream? What are my dreams? A shadow slanted sideways across a dead-end street no one ever heard of. My dreams are there. I’ll wait for them, I’ll wait for them to tell me what they are.