You want more than me, and I want more than you: this is being a human. We are trapped in a paradoxical relationship with fame, idolising those who have more than us, but secretly wishing it was the other way around. We want the better house, more followers, better looks, more control. Such spoils are promoted at every turn, in every culture, and no matter how many examples we get of them corrupting those who ‘live’ the reality of gaining them, our lust remains insatiable. We always think the grass is greener.
Shakespeare well understood the fallibility. From ‘Macbeth: not a warning, an indictment’: Shakespeare could easily have had the witches as fiends of Macbeth’s subconscious that equivocate and purposefully disrupt his morality, but their indubitable physical certitude verified by the more moralistic Banquo, serves to provide Shakespeare with a perspicuous opportunity to use the witches as symbols of society’s ills, and not simply of the individual. The witches are the manifestation of selfishness, greed, cruelty, all that is taboo, but nonetheless, real. They represent temptation. They are the reverberation of Original sin, personified. They are the darkness that drives the men using the youthful harlots in Blake’s ‘London’. They are what is deep inside the mouth of The Lord of the Flies. But they are also representative of a mind manacled by the inconsistencies of societal systems that are inherently flawed, of a mind that cannot escape such blight.
Macbeth’s lust for power is driven by the explicit example that envelops his and still our society: the view of hierarchy and its trappings is far more appealing from the top. The obvious peril of such vantage being a lonely place however, and the consequential need to fulfil the emptiness with something, almost always vice, obstinately remains in the realm of ‘does not compute’.
Michael Jackson’s level of fame twisted and distorted any semblance of reality for him. How impossible it would have been to get an honest answer from anyone, people all trying to get their slice of the pie, whether it be financial or fame by association. Ironically, his level of fame and the public’s inability to allow him to wander amongst them, insulated him forever with the parasites. Such inexorable obsequiousness prevented him from being grabbed by the shoulders and shaken into sense and inevitably paved the way for him to entertain and then perpetrate heinous acts against children. The cover up by those obviously in the know around him seemingly unfathomable, but actually more in line with the thread established. Weinstein and Epstein provide further cases in point. Jackson’s derision for manipulative and dishonest adults manifested into the outlet of seeking the innocence and thus company of children. The imbalance of power and exploitative insidiousness in these relationships a perverted extension of the learnt model.
Maradona’s fall from grace is a familiar tale. An immeasurable talent, he became God. Asif Kapadia’s brilliant documentary on the man excoriates the impossibility of leading a normal life whilst experiencing such a level of fame, and how the idolising led to isolation which led to escapism. The fickle nature of those who had fabricated the idolatry set the path in motion and their swift change of heart when it didn’t suit them, as we have argued, is hardly capricious in form. Maradona’s spiral into drugs and illness and infamy not a choice, but a forced hand. Of course the vice is the choice, but not the inevitability of it, both in its nascent and corruption.
Until we have the capacity to overcome society’s incessant advertising of the greener pasture, the world will remain f*****.
And so it goes!
I’m Paul Moss. I’m on Twitter too