Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The price of fame

Another celebrity couple broke up this week, which shocked absolutely no one. Celebrity couples break up at an alarming rate, and they have since the day Cleopatra dumped Julius Caesar for Mark Anthony. Cleo and Jules didn't have a house full of children, which makes the latest case of celebrity divorce more tragic than the one immortalized by Hollywood a generation ago. Ironically, the latest and greatest couple to call it quits actually achieved fame because of their family life. Neither can act or sing or possesses any of the requisite skills earlier generations demanded before bestowing stardom. These people became famous by being themselves as the television cameras rolled, or more to the point, by being a couple joined together in the trials and travails of surviving parenthood. Now they've split up for the sake of the children. As a child of divorce I can honestly say that most children would prefer their parents learn to get along for their sake. Instead the celebs say they are going to go their separate ways, which, of course, is a nonsensical statement when you share eight children. Whether they like it or not, those eight little faces will keep the warring parents' lives intertwined for the rest of their lives.

As the news of this latest celebrity divorce takes its turn as the lead story in all the news outlets this morning, I can't help but wonder why the couple allows the television cameras to continue to invade their lives. They announced their split on their television show last night, with new episodes planned for the remainder of the summer season. "The show must go on," they said, as if the show really had to go on. At the risk of stating the obvious, couldn't they have pulled the plug a long time ago right around the moment they noticed their relationship had started to go south? What makes fame so alluring, so addictive, that they would rather cancel their marriage than their television contract? One of the two stated that their marriage would have ended whether they were on television or not. Perhaps. Yet I can't help but wonder why, if one's marriage is that shaky, you would willingly add the weight of celebrity on top of an already poor foundation. For that matter, I have trouble understanding why anyone would want the headaches and hassles of fame. I know a few famous people. They all say the same thing: being famous is a royal pain in the backside. It always has been, and always will be. Yet people will pay any price, make any sacrifice, to place themselves in the middle of the public eye. We want to be known. We want people to care about the most insignificant details of our lives. I don't understand why. Throwing away ten years of marriage and forcing eight children to become statistics seems an awfully high price to pay for celebrity. But then again, their show's ratings have never been higher. The custody fight episodes should prove to be quite the encore.