William East- why I never want to be famous.
Why celebrity is overrated and dispelling the myth that Will East is cool.
I have a friend. His name is William East. Those of you who enjoyed Varsity will be well acquainted with this character, but for those of you who are not: a brief introduction. Mr. East was raised, like Romulus, by a she-wolf. He doesn't bleed or perspire and one glance of his smoky eyes can cause heartbeats to skip within a 15-yard radius. However, unlike Romulus, The East did not found Rome. He founded UCL Rugby.
However, much like the tale of Romulus and Remus, this is the myth that was created about poor Mr. East. The advertising for Varsity 2012 centred around ‘the cult of East’ on Facebook, and consequently most people who showed up to the match knew who Lord East was. Not to say East isn't all of these things, but he is not the public superhero suggested. He'll cringe to read that despite being the most talented player in the entire team, he is also the most humble. He’ll even have begged me not to submit this article, but I never said I was a good friend. Hey-ho.
I am ridden with guilt (sort of) that a joke to make East overcome his fear of the spotlight has spiralled so wildly out of control and to an extent to which he has lost his identity. People still know him as the MegarugbylashLAD that he was made out to be. My guilt is somewhat assuaged by the fact that this also happened while he was at school. Perhaps in the workplace he'll finally escape the bullies.
This whole experience was an intriguing microcosmic insight into celebrity and was, quite frankly, a bit disturbing. If an individual can lose their identity so easily amongst acquaintances at university, imagine the scale which this occurs with celebrities in the wider public sphere. Imagine if it wasn’t just a joke between friends played out over Facebook, but involved multiple people prying into your life and making it ubiquitously available. You could lose control of your image and there is potential for a wild distinction between the individual on the one hand, and how they are perceived on the other.
Facebook, in this instance, allows for rapid dissemination of information throughout our social sphere and potentially beyond. Groups, statuses and newsfeeds rapidly transfer university gossip and information, meaning once information is released it is hard to control and may distort the truth.
The gossip sections of some magazines show how invasive fame can be. Granted, they are satisfying natural human curiosity and readers want to ‘know’ the celebrities they like. But cooing captions to the effect of “oooh-eerrr in’t she gorrrrjuss” underneath pictures of young ladies wearing bikinis at the beach bring out my inner-dad. The intensity of such scrutiny does not appeal to me. Moreover, who is to say that the images presented to us accurately portray the character we are being shown? Editors, journalists, press agents, and maybe even the subject individual, have all played a part in influencing the information that is delivered to us. How are we to know what is correct?
People aspire to be rich and famous, but do they really want this? Wealth I can totally comprehend. While you allegedly can’t buy happiness, I’m sure a few million would lubricate the process for me. An open credit-line could be a great facilitator. However, what does fame bring to the table? It might only be a short-lived ego massage until you’re no longer interesting. The question is whether that is really satisfying. Am I missing the point? There seems to be no long-term security with fame. Perhaps that’s what makes it so exciting.