This is what I think about those who entertain us; the ones we laud, now and forever more for their outstanding achievements. I think that they just get burned out. I think that fame and fortune comes with a huge price tag and to pay that price, it means endless hours of grueling and exhausting work, work and work to continue to produce what they are adored for, to produce more for their fans who expect more and more and more from them.
With the recent passing of Prince and the not so distant passing of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, there seems to be a common denominator; aging and drugs, drugs to deal with the pain emanating from a body that has been put through a nightmarish and hellish torture. Can you just imagine what it would take to get your body ready for a concert tour? Can you imagine the hours of rehearsals, day after day after day. They have got to achieve perfection. There can be no ‘retakes’. There is no room for failure. Their fans are expecting them to give their all and to continue to give it, forever! They are expected to be above human failings. The problem is, they are not. They are put on a pedestal and they are worshipped and idolized and that has to do something to them. The pressure alone has to be beyond anything I can imagine. I would not have the stamina to withstand the pressures of being under a microscope, forever. I could not imagine the grueling workout routines and regimens they must have had to endure to be able to get through multiple back-to-back concerts and make it all look effortless and for them to look, tireless.
We are all extremely selfish when it comes to those who entertain us. We just hear and see the finished ‘product’. We don’t get to see all that goes into putting that finished ‘product’ together up until the moment they step out onto that stage and perform. We don’t see the sleepless nights when they are trying to pen lyrics to paper and then music to lyrics and then dance moves to the music. We think that it is all just glitz and glamour and fun and a beautiful voice and riches and fame and oh the wonder of it all. They must train their voice in order to extend it through hours of entertaining us and they also have no private life. Who they are friends with is known. Who they are dating or who they marry is known. Where they shop, what they buy and so forth and so on. They have no privacy whatsoever. And it seems as though it is expected of them to know that they have no right to privacy because they should know that they belong to us; their adoring and exacting fans. They cannot let us down for if they do, we will turn our backs on them, just as we did when Whitney Houston’s voice finally gave out due to her giving up. The pressure was just too great. Being in the spotlight all the time was more than she could take and add an aging body into the mix and there you have it, another ‘idol’ gone too soon, but was it too soon for her? We will never know.
And with Michael Jackson, what was different? We hear about his financial problems and we all know the scandals that rocked his life. We have heard about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father as a child. The man had no childhood. He was expected to perform, get it right the first time and never should the word, ‘imperfect’ be a part of his life; privately or publicly. That would confuse the hell out of me. I wouldn’t even begin to know who I was, especially when I never knew what it was like to be a child; to laugh and to play and to run around a playground. He couldn’t do those things because he had lyrics to write and songs to produce and moves to choreograph; an adoring public to perform in front of and the performance had better be perfect, so said his father in his early years and he knew later on in life that it was demanded of him. But with an aging body, scandals dogging his every footstep, nowhere to turn, what did you think would happen? Oh we think that they are surrounded by a loving family and plenty of bosom buddy friends but Michael Jackson was alone with just a doctor when he died. The Michael Jacksons the Princes and Whitney Houstons of this world were more alone than we can ever know. The kind of life they must live does not bode for a long life. It cannot. The body cannot take it for long and neither can the mind. All of the greats have this in common. Not many live a long life.
Prince died alone. And yet, he was idolized. I have read that his parties were ‘All The Rage’ and everyone wanted an invitation but when the final curtain call came, who was with him? Where were all of these people who had clamored to be around him, to hitch their wagon to his star? Who faced with him, the pain of an aging body, the ravages of countless, sleepless nights spent at the piano attempting to pound out yet another hit because the hits just needed to keep coming? He was Prince. He was not a mere person. He was an idol; a god. He walked, not among us, but above us which is where we put him. No mere mortal can endure that kind of adulation forever. It exacted a toll. And death comes all too prematurely; a common denominator, once again.
These people that we idolize cease to be human and become ‘wonders’. They become stars. And where are stars? Stars are in the sky beyond our reach and so are these people. We cannot touch them. We can only see and hear them from a distance and we can read about them and follow them as best we can on social media and to one country after another when they go on tour.
But have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Could I handle the pressure?” Have you ever even stopped to question just what it must be like to be idolized; put on a pedestal, not seen as all too human? Our idols will never live ‘up’ to our expectations because we prop them up too high and the higher we prop them up, the greater the distance they have to fall. And when they fall, we are not there to catch them. And so, they die, alone.
Think about that the next time you find yourself worshipping, idolizing and putting on a pedestal a person who, without the gift of a beautiful singing voice or some other extraordinary talent, would be just another you; an ordinary human being and not a ‘god’; a star in the sky, out of reach of us mere mortals. Please remember, they too, were mere mortals who happened to have been blessed with a gift they chose to share with us and though we think we did right by them, we only did them a disservice by never truly realizing all that we expected of them and all that they gave to us; not until after they died. We failed them, they did not fail us. Mankind was not meant to be worshipped, but to love and to be loved.