The Fame Game: The Anatomy of Attention

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I am currently sitting in my living room at home, watching the Rio Olympics, in awe of some of the athletes that get up on the stage of their sport and do all they can to produce that perfect performance. What we see on stage seems effortless, but is the climax of years of training, failure and anxiety spent day after day to try to accomplish their sporting dreams of an Olympic medal. However the majority of these athletes are not famous. I now find myself contemplating the topic of fame.

With a couple of exceptions, a huge number of these competitors are not really recognised by people who are not interested in sport, even by supporters from their own country. The only athletes with names the everyday person can list after their event has finished and everyone has packed up and gone home, are the Usain Bolts, the Michael Phelps, the Serena William. The ones who consistently achieve god-like feats. They are the athletes who will live forever. It is no surprise the man with 23 gold medals for swimming is given as much recognition as he receives. However there are so many more athletes who put in the same amount of graft but are very much mortal. The dressage rider that is currently on the TV in front of me is riding around the arena with such class and grace, despite having had a career threatening fall off her horse in 2014. This left her to struggle through months of double vision. However I couldn’t actually tell you the name of this British athlete (as her name is not on the screen) who has had the immense courage to get back up on their horse and compete for a medal. She is undoubtedly admirable but ironically I doubt she will be appearing on billboards in the years to come. The same cannot be said of Paris Hilton.

Instead paparazzi relentlessly stalk stars of reality TV just to snap a picture of them yawning or picking their nails and sell it to a magazine. For Kylie Jenner, being born into one of the most famous families in the world has led to 71 million followers on Instagram and the status of a household name by the time she is 19 years old. Admittedly I am one of those 71 million, but that just gives an idea of the staggering number of people who are invested in following the luxury lifestyle of this reality star. On the other hand Simone Biles, also 19 years of age, could easily be called the world’s best gymnast, reaching new heights in the world of gymnastics already, but at this moment in time only 1.4 million Instagram users care about what she posts. I am sure this number will rise after Biles’ Olympic success but it is safe to say she will never be on the same level as Jenner. Why is this? If you compare the admirable qualities of these two teenagers that could qualify them as appropriate role models for young children, it does make you wonder why people are so obsessed with what colour Kylie Jenner is wearing on her lips rather than how Simone Biles can still perform with so much confidence when she is under the pressure of a potential Olympic gold medal.

In the wake of what I have said, I will say look into the future and think about the legacy that many of the world’s famous people will leave when they die. Focus on those who will leave behind records and an example that you’d want your children to follow. Do not follow someone because MTV posted an article about their dress. Look to people who inspire, achieve and live.

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