Celebrity Watching

A couple of months ago, a b-school friend and I grabbed lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  The Polo Lounge was off limits as we were both unemployed (he has since found a job).  Instead, we hung out at the Fountain Coffee Room–hoping to catch a celebrity (or two) whilst enjoying a milkshake or embarking on a general tour of the hotel.

The Beverly Hills Hotel is a great place for celebrity watching because of its strict “no paparazzi” rule.  It is a safe place for actors.  Unfortunately, we did not spot any celebrities that day.

As the recent death of Steve Jobs demonstrates, there are many reasons for our affinities to people other than the all-important self–whether it’s one’s spouse, parents, siblings, bosses, or in Steve Jobs’ case, a celebrity, cult hero, or a general larger-than-life figure.

In almost all cases, such affinities result from some kind of lack in self or “primary narcissism.”   When someone remarks that he has married his mother, it is precisely the former.  Perhaps this person does not possess sufficient self-love–in which case, a mother’s unconditional love or nurturing (the classic Oedipus Complex) becomes infinitely attractive.  Still others married those who “completes them.”  On the other hand, if someone marries another who has similar traits or working on similar life issues, it arises from (usually healthy) primary narcissism.

Celebrity or cult hero worship is similar.  These people usually represent larger-than-life figures who have achieved something many of us can only aspire to, or embody a cause that is revolutionary.  Cases range from mild admiration (acknowledging this to self) to fanatical godlike worship.

My adventures at the Beverly Hills Hotel that day is simply my manifestation (I think) of my genuine interest in people.   As my friends know, I like analyzing people and the art of psychoanalysis.  I especially like to analyze interesting cases–e.g. what motivates celebrities and how do they handle all the attention?  This is also why I wanted to meet my former boss’ arms dealer friend.  However–while these may make for interesting stories–these people are just normal human beings.  They have similar problems and childhood issues.  The only difference is that their issues are being played out in public or on a larger scale.

As for Steve Jobs, I admire him not because he was a visionary, artist, or a shrewd businessman; but because he was always true to himself.  He was authentic, self-aware, and he found ways for self-expression through Apple and its products.  Interestingly, being authentic to myself and self-expression are themes I am working on as well.

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