Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #267: Sometimes, Someone, Has To Say No

I think this is a first.

A celebrity has been convicted of murder by a Los Angeles jury.

That's right, Phil Spector, eccentric musical genius and father of the "wall of sound," was found guilty of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra mansion in 2003. It took 6 years and two major trials, but it appears that justice has been done for his victim.

But the thing that sticks to me though is the photo taken of Spector while he was being booked into the California prison system. His wig looks like a ragged mop, and his eyes are wide open, and staring at the camera, like a dead salmon looking up at Julia Child on fish night.

For some reason I can't bring myself to say that they are wide with terror, because when I look at that increasingly fish-like face, the only word that I can use to describe that expression is disbelief. In fact, the first time I saw that picture I was hit with the thought: "Someone must have told him 'no.'"

Think about it, here was a man who lived a slightly exaggerated version of the celebrity lifestyle, chiefly that he always got everything he wanted, how he wanted it, and when he wanted it.

Everyone said "yes" to him for over 40 years, first because of his musical talent, and then because of his power in the industry. And music history is loaded with stories of him waving loaded guns at folks who even attempted to say anything close to "no."

So it's not a far stretch of the imagination that he propositioned Miss Clarkson, she dared to say "no," he got out his old friend, Mr. Handgun, and the poor woman ended up dead on his floor. In fact, I remember reading an article about his erratic and threatening behaviour 20 years ago, and thinking: One of these days that crazy bastard's going to kill someone. (Making this case one of those rare occassions when I hate being right.)

I think this sort of situation will happen again, with others doing the killing and dying. It's as inevitable as the tides. Modern celebrity culture simultaneously builds people up and tears them down, all the while indulging their every whim, no matter how bizarre or even criminal they might be. Mix that with the sort of pathological psyches that many people who aggressively pursue fame have, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Which I why I think that the most important word a celebrity has to hear is "no." They need someone to tell them when they're going off the rails, give them a clip on the ear, and remind that they are human beings after all, that actions have consequences, and that people have to view things logically, and not act like a spoiled toddler having a hissy fit.

Even the emperors of Rome would have advisors by their side during triumphal marches whispering "All fame is fleeting" in their ear. They knew the power of ego, and while it could be a form of personal mental defence, it could also become a personal self-destruct button.

Too bad no one in Hollywood seems to know that.

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