Saturday, March 9, 2013


It alarms and frustrates me that celebrities are driving every conversation from fashion and politics, to social morals and body image. Today a celebrity got a big byline on her mothering advice. The article read as if tingling fingers were poised above keyboards in anxious anticipation of the great wisdom about to be revealed by this paragon of motherhood--the celebrity mother. Really? How about featuring the wisdom of a six-time birth-er with a budget and four kids under seven? Now that's a woman with parenting advice.
Many of these entertainment figures are great human beings who do much good and who live admirable lives, but my beef is over the super-human influence we allow them to have over us. It's no longer art imitating life. It's art defining life. Sure, TV has always done that. (Refer to my link above.) But maybe it's time to take back the reins and remember that we are the experts at the average American life, not the other way around. 
Someone we love dearly moved to Los Angeles six years ago. He loves it out there. He works hard in the medical field, and when he's not working there are a thousand choices for entertainment. The city is one giant playground with the sun and the ocean mere minutes away, and plentiful offerings from the entertainment industry that turn even shopping center Christmas displays into back lot extravaganzas.
He was dazzled by it all at first, and he might be still be to some point, but his early innocence has turned to city-savvy. He's a strikingly handsome man--athletic, smart, a bit shy, a man of few words. He was invited to join a group of young A-Listers on a trip to a friend's retreat in some exotic place, and it proved to be a real eye-opener.
He knew a few of the other guests' bios. Most had been in the industry since childhood. In fact, work and preparation for success had been their childhood. Most had never stepped foot in a real high school, never had a prom, never attended a high school football game, never met a regular high school guy or girl and been asked out on a real date. One told this young man that he was the first person she'd dated who had ever gone to college. Many young stars speak from this narrow platform of life experience, while so many of our youth twist themselves inside out to be conform to their celluloid definition of what a teen should be.
Entertainment icons travel the world and have a myriad of larger-than-life experiences, but to a great extent, they do not portray their lives on screen. They portray ours. Lives many of them have never actually lived. Lives their writers create and feed to them. And yet somehow we miss those points, getting so caught up in the drama of their performance that we see the performance not as entertainment but as a model of how to be a parent, a wife, a husband, a lover, a child, or a teen. That's our mistake.
I watched some reruns of "Bewitched" a while back. Daron almost never entered the house without Samantha offering him a drink. I wonder how many homes actually ran like that, but then I wondered how many wives went out and bought decanters of alcohol because they bought into that portrayal of the sophisticated home.
Books fit into that entertainment niche where we go for escapism and thrill. I like a good moment of escape as well as the next person. As an author I try to write that kind of book. But when we lay the book aside, or turn the TV off, we return to our world, with our values, our budgets, our real supporting cast. We are the experts of our own real lives. The entertainment industry titans are the experts of theirs. The two worlds are rarely the same.
Tell your kids they know as much, and maybe more about the life of a real kid than any movie star. In fact, they could teach the movie industry a few things about real kids' lives. But when we want to escape to somewhere different, where life is perhaps bigger, seemingly brighter, or sometimes darker than our regular world, by all means pick up a great book or see a good flick. Applaud the writers' and actors' skills, and then go home and be the rock star of your own awesome world.  

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