Yesterday I blogged about my desire to get rich. Today I’m going to blog about it some more.
I did a little research today and discovered the following:
1.) Snooki’s net worth is approximately $4 million.
2.) Kesha is worth about $8.5 million. Honestly, I thought she’d be a little richer.
3.) Nicholas Sparks has a nice little nest egg at $30 million. Plus five kids and a house in North Carolina.
4.) George Bush is worth an estimated $35 million.
But you know who’s richer than all of them?
Kim Kardashian. She’s apparently worth over $40 million.
Today on gmail I asked my friends and family why they thought Kim Kardashian, who does not have any discernible talents I’m aware of, is famous. I liked my friend Roxie’s answer the best: “Sex, drugs, and money. If you don’t have [these things] nobody cares.” So I made a list of what Kim Kardashian has going for her:
1.) She’s pretty
2.) She has a nice, hyper-feminine body
3.) She has, I concede, an amazing butt
4.) She has a sex tape
Then I asked myself, as a society, why do we elevate someone like Kim Kardashian to fame? Are we really that impressed by her face and body and sex tape that we’ve helped her create a $40 million empire? Do we secretly wish we were her? Do we live vicariously through her reality TV show? Is she a guilty pleasure? Do we secretly wish we could live indulgent, hedonistic and over-the-top lives in which we’re always beautiful and camera ready?
When I was a teenager, I remember watching a 60 Minutes special about Fernando Botero, a Medellin-born artist best known for being a painter of all things fat. You could say his art is larger-than-life (or maybe, by American standards, it captures life quite accurately).
The interviewer asked him why he painted everything fat: People, animals, fruit, flowers, furniture — and he said that he believed that if we could, humans would give into their every desires and happily over-indulge in everything. If it weren’t for societal pressures, we’d all want to be morbidly obese, at least metaphorically speaking. We’d give into our impulses and temptations and in this state of overindulgence and “fatness” we’d be happy. Fatness — and more significantly the lack of control it implies — is the human condition we all secretly aspire to, at least according to Botero.
I don’t know if I agree with Botero, but I can see his point. Maybe Snooki and Kim Kardashian provide us with a reprieve from our everyday, ordinary and yes, sometimes even boring lives. There are people in this world who make millions of dollars partying, taking tequila shots, making sex tapes, getting married and divorced multiple times, becoming single mothers and acting stupid in front of the cameras. Does this give us some kind of perverse hope that it’s still possible to “succeed” even if we make what seems like all the wrong choices? That we can avoid the tough choices, the bland, boring patches, the difficult, mediocre, frustrating and disappointing moments in life and still make it big anyway? Sure Kim Kardashian and Snooki feel pain, sadness and frustration like the rest of us, but they have an endless supply of money to pay for therapy! When I was growing up, I remember my mom saying (about rich people), “sure, they have money, but they aren’t happy.” I grew up thinking that rich people were miserable. And maybe they are. But guess what? If they are miserable, they have a lot more resources and yes, money, to fix their problems. If you’re miserable or I’m miserable we have to worry about things like insurance co-pays for counseling services and whether or not we have enough accumulated leave and can afford to take a break in order to get happy.
But even if we aspire to be more than Snookis, Kim Kardashians and Paris Hiltons, in a way, wealthy, successful people, even those with actual talents who I’d feel comfortable respecting, are symbols and embodiments of the possibilities of life, of living a wonderfully, ridiculously over-the-top, larger-than-life existence. Kind of like life on steroids. Nicholas Sparks offers these sappy, against-all-odds romances that probably give people hope that true, faithful romantic love is possible for a lifetime. Kesha gives people hope that if you can write some catchy lyrics you have a chance at fame. Snooki gives people hope that an every day, average middle-class girl can become famous for nothing in particular. People like J.K Rowling offer us a larger-than-life world of possibilities; she gave us the magical world of Harry Potter that seemed to take over the universe for the better part of a decade! And sure, Bush was actually born in New Haven, attended Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and went on to Yale, but maybe he gives people hope that an “everyday, every man cowboy” can become president. Maybe people become famous (and wealthy) because they chase, capture and personify a dream better than the rest of us can. Maybe it’s all about being a great performer and knowing exactly what your adoring public wants from you. Or what they would want, if you had an adoring public.
Sure, there’s probably plenty of luck involved — and maybe a substantial dose of privileged background — but I think there also has to be a certain amount of ambition and drive involved, no matter who you are. You need to know how to create an image people will be drawn to. You need to know how to go after something, how to strategize, plan, regroup, make a new plan and go after it even harder. I think that a lot of people who succeed just do it, like Nike says. Really, I think that’s got to be one of the best ad campaigns ever.
I started thinking about the difference between people who go after their dreams and those who don’t during a trip to New York back in April. Personally, I spend a lot of time thinking about doing things. I plan, I think, I over-think, then I think some more, then a little more…then I stall. And stall. For years and years I stall and put my dreams aside in anticipation of a more perfect moment to make things happen. I guess it’s kind of like that saying: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” You can have all the talent in the world but if you sit on it all your life — if it remains stubbornly and eternally in your head and you never do anything about it — what’s the point? How many secret artists, writers, singers, dancers, scientists, inventors, politicians, leaders, CEOs, architects, doctors, entrepreneurs and actors do you talk to everyday?
Sure, the tree fell, but if no one ever hears it, does anyone really care?
And really people, I’m not actually as superficial and money-hungry as I sound right now. I don’t need millions. I’d just like to own my own condo someday and maybe, just maybe, reach 50,000 viewers a month on my blog. Is that too much to ask for? A little home ownership and some modest blog fame?