WWW theweekextra


Monday, February 4, 2008

No disappearing act for the rich and famous

John Halverson/The Week

As I sat at my computer early this morning, writing a column of a different sort, I heard a radio report that Britney Spears had been hospitalized.

True, her mental fragility has gotten as much ink as the presidential race. Still, this morning, in the relative privacy of my own office, I can't help but feel ashamed for her public humiliation.

"A motorcade the length of a football field escorted the pop star," a news report said." Reporters camped out all night outside Spears' gated home, and news helicopters hovered overhead. News photographers and paparazzi lined the streets."

Hardly the way I would want to experience my most vulnerable moments.

Of course, the fact that I'm writing about her means I share some of the morose fascination we all have in human failure, especially by those we perceive as having more going for them than we do.

Until her mental illness was diagnosed, Britney was vanilla. Once we knew she was troubled, she became colorful. We love failure in others just as we hate it in ourselves.

Britney isn't the first celebrity who's wished they could become unfamous again.

Bob Dylan used a 1966 motorcycle accident to drop out.

"I woke up and caught my senses; I realized that I was just workin' for all these leeches. Plus, I had a family and I just wanted to see my kids."

Of course his reprieve didn't last long. Like Frank Sinatra, Dylan has chosen a life on the road over seclusion.

Jack Kerouac, who became the spokesman of the beat generation when he wrote On the Road, spent his final years living with his mother.

When hippies knocked on his door hoping to find a spiritual guru, they found a drunk with a conservative streak.

Both he and his mother drank themselves to death. Kerouac was 47.

J.D. Salinger, the author of Catcher in the Rye, has lived in seclusion for decades.

Supposedly, he's continued to write and has a safe full of novels that will never see the light of day. It seems he's chosen to live the rest of his life through characters of his own making.

In Salinger's case, even his daughter couldn't be trusted with his privacy. She wrote a tell-all book I couldn't finish.

Only Daniel Day Lewis, who is up for an Oscar again this year, seems to have found a way to carve a second life out of the first one.

Known for immersing himself in his movie characters, Lewis disappeared into himself a few years ago to be an apprentice cobbler. It's a period he won't talk about, making it impossible not to wonder about.

"I most enjoy the loss of self that can only be achieved through detailed understanding of another life--not by limping and growing a moustache," Lewis said.

If he wins his second Oscar, will he ever be able to disappear again?



Post a Comment

<< Home



News Blogs


The Guide












Site Map

© 2006 The Week Extra. All rights reserved.