When I exercise, I strap on an armband, pop my phone into it and choose between several different music service playlists. Songza, Spotify, Pandora and now Amazon Prime Music – they all have their own unique blends of playlists; I like a lot of variety, hence, all of them.
The other day I was listening to a running playlist on Spotify and “Run This Town, ” by Rihanna and Jay Z came on. Let me just say, I don’t particularly care for Rihanna, and I’m not a Jay Z fan. At all. But then again, I am 51 years old and living in the Bible Belt.
I probably would never buy music by either artist, but when I’m trying to maintain a cardio pace, certain playlists offer a rhythmic beat that keeps me going. I don’t usually hear the lyrics; I just hear the beat. Every once in a while though, something catches my ear, causing me to pay attention to what’s being said. In this case, it was because some extra coarse language was being sung/rapped and I was trying to get my phone out of the case so I could skip the song. But I still heard plenty of the lyrics before I could manage to extricate my phone. Here’s a portion of what I heard – and I’m leaving out the bad language!:
…We got a banquette full the broads
They got a table full of fellas… (?)
And they ain’t spending no cake
They should throw they hand in
‘Cause they ain’t got no spades…
My whole team got dough
So my banquette is lookin’ like Millionaire’s Row
Life’s a game but it’s not fair
I break the rules so I don’t care
So I keep doin’ my own thing
Walkin’ tall against the rain
Victory’s within the mile
Almost there, don’t give up now
Only thing that’s on my mind
Is who’s gonna run this town tonight
(Is who’s gonna run this town tonight)
…I bought my whole family whips, no Volvos
Next time I’m in church, please no photos
This the life that everybody ask for
This a fast life…
So, besides the bad language, what caught my attention was the line
This the life that everybody ask for
This a fast life…
and I started to wonder “Is that life – an extraordinary life of wealth, travel, privilege, fame, notoriety, paparazzi, etc… – really what everybody asks for?”
I mean, People, Us, Entertainment Weekly and The National Enquirer magazines are probably some of the few print magazines that actually still sell well. TMZ, The Smoking Gun, DailyMail, Perez Hilton and Celebitchy websites are flourishing. So it would seem as a culture that we just can’t get enough celebrity news. Maybe just reading about what Emma Stone or Bradley Cooper are wearing/doing/seeing makes us feel like we’re actually part of that life.
I don’t know. I’m not immune from reading that kind of stuff. I try to read other more meaningful things, but personally, I love to see all the fashion that celebrities wear to the Oscars and the like. When the news that George Clooney got engaged, I knew about it. When celebrities make news, it’s not just celebrity news anymore, it’s news. For instance, when Justin Bieber was arrested in MIami, it wasn’t just on “gossip” sites, it was also all over CNN, MSNBC, Fox, Drudge and the like, so it’s difficult to actually not hear those kinds of stories.
But just because I know about those things, or even pay attention to them, does it truly mean that I WANT that kind of life?
Sure, sometimes, it sounds nice. Travel without thinking my money could be better spent? Sweet. Pay for things beyond my bills without worrying? That would be good. Help out my family with their finances? Extra nice. Give money to all the charities that I would like to support? Icing on the cake! So yeah, that aspect would make celebrity life worth it.
Or would it?
Even with all the money, would I really want the paparazzi following me? And does having all the money and fame mean people would like me for me, or would they want to be around me because of what I could give them?
I’m hardly the first to say this, but does money, and more specifically, fame, really make you happier? Or can we live an ordinary extraordinary life?
I’m in a sort of unique position in that the niece of one of my oldest friends is famous. Suffice it to say, you’ve probably heard a song she’s sung or watched a movie that she’s been in. At the very least, you’ve likely heard her name. She’s not often in the tabloids, but, and this is big BUT, her life and the life of her family, once she attained fame, was, to put it mildly, wrecked. I haven’t seen her since right before she became famous in her teens, and while she wouldn’t pick me out of a crowd, if I told her who I was, how I knew her mother & aunt, and the house where I grew up, she’d know me. But her family’s life went all haywire after the fame and fortune thing. Before, they attended church each week, traveled the country together and were a tight-knit family, happy in their ordinary-ness Now… not so much. Divorce, estrangement, bitter feelings toward one another… And that’s just famous girl’s parents and siblings; the extended family is not really in touch either. It’s very sad, and I wonder if it was really worth it.
Can’t my life be extraordinary – isn’t my life extraordinary – by virtue of who I am in Christ?
When I’m folding laundry, cleaning up dog poo, scrubbing gunk out of my fridge, fighting with my teenage daughter about her clothes, paying bills, weeding the flower beds, donating household goods to the local Habitat for Humanity, laughing with my husband, helping a friend, isn’t that extraordinary?
I’m sure celebrities do those things too, and God sees their value in that, as well as their fame. Because, after all, even with all their talent and hard work, He was the one who gave them those gifts.
But the fame – isn’t that where the rest of the world sees their worth?
And is that what I would really want?