As the old saying goes, never meet your heroes. Without fail, you’ll be disappointed. And y’know what? I’ve found this to be somewhat true both in real life and online. One of my first examples of this stems from when I was a kid. I used to write fan letters to actors and actresses I admired. As a child, I imagined celebrities reading my fan letters, but in reality, my letters most likely never reached them. And as I learned much later, the rubber-stamped autographed picture I received via return mail came from a publicist. Which was disappointing.
Can I Have Your Autograph?
Of course I always imagined them writing back, and we’d become pen pals who’d wind up the BEST of friends. DON’T JUDGE ME I WAS TWELVE. Matter of fact, only one actor I ever wrote to ever sent me something personalized, signed in actual ink. I remember being so thrilled. Come to think of it, I get that same feeling when a celeb likes my tweet!
Anyway in those days, getting an autographed picture in ink from a publicity team was as close you could get to a celebrity, unless you were somebody. Not unless you ran into someone on the literal street did you really ever have access to these folks. In order to see their personality, you’d have to rely on watching an interview on television, right? Because there were no cell phones or social media platforms back then, you had no way of knowing what was happening behind the scenes. That is, outside of what was made up in the supermarket rags and late-night talk shows.
Let The Show Begin
Back in the day, the most a civilian saw of a celebrity was either on the television or movie screen. Again, if you were lucky, you might catch them in a late-night show interview or an afternoon talk show. If you happened to be in the right place at the right time, you might run into them somewhere. Back in the day, that was downright like winning the lottery – if they were nice. But oh man it was always a gut wrencher to hear about someone who wasn’t nice.
At any rate, as someone who was in her own head most of the time, I preferred to view the stars as the characters they played on TV or in movies. Well, I think a lot of people do. I also realized that as a kid, I didn’t really think about what they were like as a person. Plus in my childlike mind, I always envisioned them being nice. And of course then I’d imagine we’d meet and become besties for life!
And then when I was a little older, I had the typical teenage dream of being swept off my feet by some super famous, funny guy and we’d like go get married and live on a goat farm in Vermont. Like I said, I lived in my head a LOT. I wasn’t popular in school. I was a bookish nerdy kid. Seriously, when I tell you I looked like this:
I am not kidding. And to be honest with you all, it was only when I turned about…34-35, I started looking like this (minus the braces of course):
Given that being a 35 year old teenage dream is the plot of a Lifetime movie, we’ll just move along from there, shall we?
ANYWAY what I’m trying to get at is, I was a lonely kid who immersed herself in the world of television and movies. And living in the San Fernando Valley, I had a better chance than most of running into a celebrity when I was little, and did run into a few. Who I’ll admit were nice. Plus my mom was a hostess in the sixties at a steakhouse that catered to the rich and fabulous back in the day, so I grew up hearing tales of how many of the rich and powerful in Hollywood really acted behind the scenes.
If They’re Mean To The Service Staff
Of course my mom has some tales to tell. For example, the charming, affable comedian who was adorable to the public and the complete opposite to the help. She knew who was nice. Who was really nice. A few who were not so nice. I mean when I tell you, household names. You’d be shocked. Hell, my mom will pop off with a story if we’re watching an old movie that will drop my jaw, even today!
So really, growing up hearing these stories and meeting a few celebs with my parents who were nice, (I didn’t know them, but they did), and selling girl scout cookies to Janet Jackson when I was about eleven (she was lovely. I didn’t know who she was, but everyone else did), I guess I came away with the general idea that most celebrities were nice. And I guess because I’m an idealist (rubber-stamped photos aside) I think I carried that idea pretty much into my thirties. I’ll admit I got star struck a LOT, especially after the advent of social media. That is, until I met one of my heroes.
The Dream is Over
I remember the first time a celebrity was a jerk to me on social media. I was so disappointed. And after a few experiences like this, I got un-star-struck at getting to interact with a celebrity online real quick. However, that broke the illusion for me that just because I loved the character they play, did it mean they were anything like that character. Or even a decent human being, for that matter. All that means is that they’re a good actor.
Heck, I saw that play out not too long ago on Twitter when another conservative Z list celebrity and former child actor threw a fit at having his rights oppressed by the proletariat or some garbage like that and I don’t know how many tweets I read that went along the lines of, “Oh Em Gee, I used to have a crush on that?” and accompanied by a gif showing someone gagging violently. Talk about a shattered teenage dream!
Back To Reality
After that, I wasn’t so eager to meet my heroes. I might have a soft heart, but I like to think I don’t have a soft brain. Burned once, think twice and all that? And also, I realized that I can like someone as a celebrity, but I don’t necessarily have to like them in person. It’s also bizarre to think you’re going to like a celebrity in real life, and you just…don’t. You can look at their online media presence and think, holy cow, I wouldn’t like this person at all if I met ’em on the street.
And I can’t even lie; finding out a celebrity I love or used to love is a craven asshole just RUINS it for me. Like I could never watch their shows or movies after that. I don’t know if that’s a me thing or an everyone thing.
So oftentimes, I won’t follow celebrities on Twitter, if I’m a big enough fan. That’s so I don’t break the illusion. Unless they seem like a nice person. Like how-they-are-when-nobody’s-looking nice. Personable. Relatable. Even if apparently all their Twitter is, is their likes. Ummm okay. STILL COUNTS! And of course we’ve all had that “oh they have a TWITTER? Let me go follow them right now” moment. And I think it’s odd because isn’t that part of the point of being a fan on social media? To follow your favorite celebrity? At this big age I always think, I dunno…am I really that interested? Sometimes, sometimes not.
Take today for example. I love Jason Sudeikis. I’ve seen a lot of his movies. Today I read an article that shows he’s a genuine human being. It never occurred to me to follow him on Twitter, though. Well, I followed him on Twitter today because I like being in the presence of genuinely awesome human beings, even virtually, so I can emulate some of their niceness. Even if it stems from just knowing what he “likes” on Twitter. Hey!! You can learn a lot about a person by their “likes”!! And of course Ted Lasso is now on the watch list.
BTW, the whole “emulating niceness” theme might sound familiar if you read my blog on how I learned to be a better, nicer person. Oh? You haven’t read that yet? Well TODAY IS YOUR LUCKY DAY my friend! You can check it out here.
I’d like to note here I’ve UNfollowed people I thought were nice and adorable after finding out that wasn’t the case. I don’t want to be in the presence of that at all.
So What Have We Learned – Should We Meet Our Heroes?
In the age of online media and fan conventions making celebrities more accessible, it’s relatively easy to “meet” your hero. If you’re curious as to what someone is like, you can stalk their social media (unless it’s run by a publicist). With cellphones so readily available, if someone acts out of pocket it’s going to come out fairly quickly. I think you can get a feel for someone via their online media, but remember, online presence can be completely fake too.
Keeping this all in mind, should we meet our heroes? Depends, only if it will not be the end of your life if you met them and they were an asshole or dismissive of you. I think if you expect them to be nice without making allowances for if they’re having a bad day, or you, like, bother them while they’re eating or something (don’t do that), you’re doing yourself a disservice. I’d rather never know what my favorite celeb was like than meet them personally and have them be a jerk to me. Of course if I met them organically and they turned out to be adorable, that would be cool.
I think if you have the opportunity to meet your heroes, do it. Just be prepared to not have your feelings hurt too badly if they break those rose-colored glasses of yours right in half. And remember, this is not someone you know personally no matter how much you stalk their social media. Of course, these days, I’m more of a fan of people I can relate to, but I have my celebs I’m a huge fan of as well.
For the record, though, one thing that will humanize a celebrity or keep me from being too star struck is happening upon their twitter and think, huh. I like this person but not enough to keep up with what they had for lunch.
That’s freeing, in a way.
Then again, there’s always that OMG I COULD BE BESTIES WITH THEM thought. And if I ever get the chance to find out, I’ll let you know in an upcoming blog.
So tell me, have you ever had the experience of meeting a celebrity or interacted with them on Twitter? Was it a good experience? Was it a bad experience? Did it ruin your favorite show? Whatever kind of experience, I want to hear about it in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this blog, please subscribe for more Life Lessons from Silverman House and other musings from this former disgruntled office monkey.
Thanks for reading and thank you Jason Sudeikis for inspiring me today after a month-and-a half-long writing dry spell,