Star Makers & Star Breakers

October 16th, 2007

I was a free man in Paris, I felt unfettered and alive. Nobody was calling me up for favors, no ones future to decide. You know I’d go back there tomorrow, but for the work I’ve taken on, stoking the star maker machinery behind the popular song. - Joni Mitchell, “Free Man in Paris”.

I. The Machinery

Fame and fortune is not a purely natural, and sometimes not even a logical, consequence of talent. It’s a function of the star-making machinery. A very limited group of business people are responsible for choosing what they believe the public will buy. Sometimes rare talent or genius is involved, but more often other factors come into play: charisma, beauty, outrageousness, uniqueness (or the ability to mimic another hot commodity) . . . .nepotism, marketability, timeliness.

The fame game is fickle, precarious, and often unreasonable. It will occasionally pour resources into bringing a William Hung or Ann Coulter to the public, at the expense of genuine talent, but when people complain, the star-makers will say it’s the public’s fault – that it is us, sitting in our living rooms, blind to everything but the tiny fraction they show us – that creates the demand for bad singers or brainless pundits.

Paris Hilton is not a celebrity because of talent, but because she’s an attractive heiress and a paparazzi’s wet dream. She poses, takes spills without her panties on, makes sex tapes, and gets in barroom brawls. If her celebrity ended tomorrow, it’s doubtful that many in the public would miss her, but it won’t end. Paris has become easy material. The perfect filler between cellulite shots and rehab stories.

If the Beatle’s came on the scene today their music probably would not sell, as Eminem would not have sold records in the 70’s. The criteria for what is considered lyrical talent changes, not just with time, but with culture. The messages that appeal to one generation don’t always appeal to another. In the acting world, neither Pamela Anderson or Suzanne Sommers could be called especially talented, but as bare-legged, big-chested blondes they appealed to droves of American men.

If Madonna and Jay Leno were not already marketable names, the chances are good that neither would have seen their children’s books published – it is an exceptionally competitive and difficult market to break into, and fickle. In the nineties, numerous children’s publishers told writers that they wanted “realistic” books for children, not fantasy, but since the advent of Harry Potter, fantasy books have been all the rage.

In the adult market, when Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate became a success, scores of books using recipes and food as a central element were published. Publishing, by and large, has become a copycat industry, growing less innovative, taking fewer risks, and over-relying on the formula of one bestseller to generate interest in others of the same genre.

A young and not yet famous Ayn Rand once wrote a short story in which a celebrated actress was challenged to come back as a nobody; to reinvent herself and her stellar climb to fame. Despite being the same person, with the same level of skill, the actress failed. It was a new time, with new people. The circumstances had changed.

The machine can bring us the great talent of Yo-Yo Ma or the irrelevance of Cato Kaelin. It can invite us into the lyrical depths of artists like Tori Amos or Amy Lee, or mass-market the crudeness of a song like “My Humps“. The machine is erratic, fluid, volatile. It pumps up and grinds down. The public tends to follow along.

II. Luck, Resentment & Celebrity

A few weeks ago, I visited a popular online gossip site where I was shocked by the public ridicule of babies born to the famous. This, combined with the communal evisceration of many celebrities on websites, and in television and gossip rags, left me questioning the public’s duality. The same people who loudly and colorfully claim an aversion to one or more of the rich and famous will also read every story they can find about them. They will visit the gossip sites, watch ET or The Insider, buy the gossip rags, and visit the forums, eager to share their mean-spirited views. They will even visit the celebrities own blogs, delighting in any perceived negatives they can find, from a speculative lack of gratitude to misspelled words and messy hair.

Perhaps because luck does play a role in celebrity and success – because becoming rich and famous in America is something like winning the star-making lottery – people tend to resent celebrities almost as much as they enjoy the entertainment they provide.

That resentment is clear in letters to editors, on internet sites, and in radio call-in shows. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read or heard the public rail against celebrities for the privileges they have.

She says it’s tough to raise kids alone. Try doing it without nannies and on my budget!

Must be nice to buy a $2000 dress, some people can’t even shoes. . .

Oh boo-hoo, she had a bad childhood. I’d trade places with her in an instant. . .

The message is clear. If you’ve won the lottery, you can’t be “one of us”. You can’t be a real human being, feel the same way we do, or have had similar experiences. Money should prevent you from making mistakes, from breaking down, expressing frustration, getting addicted, being young and lost, or being exhausted. And fame should always carry an apology with it – comments should be qualified by an acknowledgment of luck, good fortune and gratitude. An aw shucks, shoulder-hunching humility. (Unless, of course, the thing that sold you to the public was shallowness or arrogance. Then you can be a nasty-as-you-please Donald Trump, a Queen of Mean Leona Helmsely, or someone who’s simply “famous for being famous.”).

People tend to forget that luck aside, many of the celebrities they have a love-hate relationship with spent years training and “paying their dues”. They didn’t come out of the womb professionally polished. Britney Spears, for example, started performing when she was only eight years old. She held her first television job at 11, released her debut album at 17, and went on to sell 75 million records worldwide – all before she was 24. She spent one hellish year in public high school – a stab at teenage normalcy that was largely resented by her classmates.

Hers is a life that is dissimilar to most, a life that few people could truly understand, and one that many wish not to. It is easier for the public to judge her not by her own experiences, but by theirs. They don’t see the years of hard work; they see only the luck. They don’t see the lost childhood, the confusion, the pain, the opportunities and experiences not had, and they don’t see any possible reasons for Britney’s struggle. They see, instead, ingratitude – a squandering of fame and fortune – because that’s the way the tabloids are selling the story. And the public, on that basis, seeks to continue making a mockery of her – a warning-filled joke to celebrities who might fall off their precarious pedestals, showing their feet of clay, and their all-too human tendency to occasionally fall from grace.

To legions of people, celebrities seem to carry an ethereal glow, burning as hot or as cold as the star-makers and star-breakers would have them. In that extraordinary other-world of fame and fortune, celebrities become plasticized images, to be divided, drawn over, crossed out or rearranged to suit the machine’s bottom line — and consequentially, the created “public demand”.

Pummeled and promoted, loved and hated, the public expects their stars to be elevated. Separated from the crowd of humanity and thankful for the separateness whether it’s a distance filled with accolades or bricks, adoration or senseless resentment.

When it comes to star-breaking, the public seems to take a perverse glee in smashing imaginary pedestals and treating with contempt those who have tumbled back into the merely mortal sphere. A sphere that was never really left in the first place, but where many celebrities find themselves largely unwelcomed.

54 Responses to “Star Makers & Star Breakers”

  • Oh Janie, you don’t even have to be a celebrity. God, look at what happened in the tiny microcosm when you had a little success. People ran screaming for the hills, making up stories, trying to trash you, and resenting everything you ever did, and all the while before they were singing your praises!

    People are jealous of anything other people have that they don’t even when it makes no sense. Rich people can even be jealous of the “freedom” of poverty (how soon they forget!).

    And our mutual fave, Tina Schlieske. Remember how many fans cried foul when she signed on with a major label? They were PISSED. They wanted her to remain their homegrown girl. How DARE she try to ascend any farther than that? They called her a sell-out. And that machine you spoke of, the fans wouldn’t support her in it. She went back to her indie label. I doubt she’s sold 100,000 much less a million records, and she’s a fantastic musical talent.

    Wish you’d publish that piece you did on lost potential here. It was incredibly thought provoking and made me think of how many times I’ve been guilty of shutting someone out for my own stupid “reasons” which, as you taught me, are really just prejudices disguised in poor judgement.

    Love you Jane, through thick and thin. And when your book becomes a bestseller, I promise I won’t join the resentment train!

  • Hi Laurie,

    I hope to never write a bestseller, and am certain I won’t, for many many reasons. It would be enough to have a respectable book read by those I most wanted to reach.

    Tina’s going acoustic at the Pi bar 11/21. I’ll be there.

    The piece you’re referring to is several pages too long to publish here, but maybe I’ll do a short article about the subject somewhere down the road.

  • Britney’s still a child in so many ways but she’s got kids so I think people are hard on her because she doesn’t seem to be a very good mother. I think though that the tabloids should lay off 24 / 7 coverage of her. She probably needs some space. I hope she finds the help she needs.

  • Jane, I wonder how many talented people never make it to the filter much less through it. How many good manuscripts never get published, how many talented singers are never heard, how many good actors never get exposure.

    It’s weird to think about who makes it through and why. I’ve read so many really mediocre books and seen so many bad tv shows. And nepotism, yes, only I think they like to call it connections.

    I’ve taken to watching a lot of indies and foreign films lately. The contrast is wonderful, strange, wonderful. You don’t have to have the perfect form, teeth or hair to be an actor in most countries. It’s almost weird to look at the screen and see someone who looks totally real, and not all that different from you!

  • Thank you Jane for another great article,
    Remember the saying “what goes up must come down”?
    Applies to more then a ball don’t you think?


  • in a way, it’s all kind of a setup, isn’t it? Im sitting here watching promos for a show called the Housewives of Orange County. Bravo’s bringing us the story of people we “love to hate”. Shallow people and their botox and silicone. You have to wonder, is this what the public is really interested in, or is it that we’re living in a culture that would rather see what we dislike and that stokes our worst feelings. Maybe the machine isn’t “stoking stars” but a different thing altogethre. The same way it stoked thr rightwing rabid hate-filled politics of the last several years.

  • Great article Jane.
    When did it all turn so vicious and nasty? There was always “star makers” celebrity photographers, the media machine. But it is all so negative now. They can’t wait to tear them down, and the celebrities themselves can’t seem to get there acts together.
    It isn’t really hard to understand how someone who has been working to the extent that Britney has since she was 11 years old, then having two babies very close together, could be having problems. It is so sad. I’m not making excuses for some really bizarre behavior, but you don’t really pick up too many domestic skills when your busy earning the family bread and butter during your childhood. I heard tonight that her ex is proposing a reality show for the two of them! I hope that wasn’t true.
    I don’t get the behavior of these young hollywood women these days.
    These beautiful young girls so determined to act as trashy as possible.
    Every day, a new crotch is hanging out.
    They can afford to be driven everywhere they go, yet
    insist on driving their inebriated selves.
    I used to want to be in show business. Thank God that didn’t pan out!

  • Allison, I think it is a reflection of the culture. If innocence or niceness sold there would be more innocence and niceness displayed. And look at what the paps. are getting paid for those pics, sometimes hundreds of thousands of $$$. Enough so that they’ll run someone off the road.

    Drugs and alcohol have also been around forever, but you never saw Marilyn Monroe drunk and stumbling, not because she never did but because magazines wouldn’t buy that shot like they would now. It appears many people knew Joanne Crawford wasn’t mother of the year but nobody ran to the tabloids with the story. Bad and good both come from this. In a way, the protection of our idols only elevates them more and makes them less human. In another sense, exploiting their every mishap makes them appear stupid or causes, as Jane said, resentment.

    TMZ had a clip today of Ellen Degeneras crying on her show after she gave an adopted puppy to her hair dresser. The shelter took it back because she wasn’t allowed to find the dog a new home if it didn’t work out for her, she was supposed to return it. It was incredibly sad, and I felt so sorry for her. It’s something that could have happened to any of us, and her intentions were pure.

    Still, TMZ treated the situation as fodder and the posters thrashed Ellen for everything under the sun. Hatred was so inapproprate, but their it was. Resentment poured forth. Over a terribly sad tale about a puppy two little girls had grown very attached to.

    Culture is losing its ability to empathize/sympathize/feel. We are bcoming ever colder.

  • Isabel, You are so right. The way they are throwing Ellen around now. What a heart wrenching situation for them. The goodness in someone is pouring out, and I heard someone on E wondering if it was for ratings. I think not. Ellen is the beach ball they are batting around this week.

  • I think the recent Miss South Carolina you-tube clip exemplifies the two edged sword of being, or wanting to be a celebrity in our culture. There are a lot of people who may admire and envy your looks or particular skill, but unless you offer something substantive that meaningfully elevates you, you can easily become a laughingstock with one revealing mishap.
    I wish there was more of an emphasis on celebrating (celebrifying?) people whose accomplishments transcend the superficiality of most of what surrounds us. Our culture is awash with ego but severely lacking in self esteem.

    Alison, do you have a link? - JD

  • Jane, you are my new internet hero. A champion for logic and common sense, I thank you, theres not nearly enough of that in this world.

    Yes, its the corporations who mostly get to decide what we watch, hear, see, read. There are alternatives but not only do you have to search for them you have to contribute to their existence if you care for something outside the McBox.

    I’m an actor, a pretty good one, experienced, and I know all too well how difficult it is to get a break. I have seen some of the most wretched actors and actresses get parts based on all the wrong criteria, much of it stereotypical. They had sex with somebody, they’re dating someone, Daddy owns someone or something, they’re Someone Important’s son, daughter, niece, nephew. They’ve got the brightest teeth, the biggest boobs, the best six-pack.

    If Tori Spelling were a farm girl from Dubuque, she never would have made television, not even on a commercial. And there probably is some farm girl from Dubuque who dreamed big, moved to LA, took years of drama classes, worked hard, and then went home with her head hanging and spirit sapped years later……because no matter how hard you work, or how talented you are, there’s always a Tori, or Lisa Marie, Rumer Willis…… Hundreds of them, known and not known to be connected…..

    It IS a lottery. And at least 80% of the time, you have to have some talent to even enter the drawing, but the shades of talent vary and are not always based on who is actually better at what they do.

    Still reading your site after Rosie’s post, Jane, but didn’t feel the need to post until now. You touched a real nerve with this one, but in a good way.

  • Sorry for the second post, but you got me all revved up!

    I read somewhere on here (sorry, too lazy to go find it again) where you were talking about perceptions people have of what’s to be considered “good” in the writing world, i.e., having a number of publications under your belt.

    The same goes for actors, Jane. Yes, I have the “day job”. The sterotypical waiter who spends his days auditioning, and people truly believe that because I wait tables I must have no talent, and even when I tell them I have had roles on both stage and television, they ass*ume that I’m not very good at what I do…. Otherwise, why am I waiting tables? They somehow believe that every role pays a hefty salary, or that if I was good, I’d have no problem finding work. They have absolutely no clue, but no problem ass*uming.

    Anyway, I get it Jane and I get you. Thank you for letting me vent!

  • Jane,
    I have a great idea for a new reality show. Its about this writer. She wrote magnificently and her words could bring tears, invoke hatred or deep thinking. Even laughter. She was happy and content sharing her thoughts and musings on the internet.
    Then one day, Anna Nicole Smith died…..

    I do love ya.

  • “Oh Janie, you don’t even have to be a celebrity. God, look at what happened in the tiny microcosm when you had a little success. People ran screaming for the hills, making up stories, trying to trash you, and resenting everything you ever did, and all the while before they were singing your praises!”

    Yikes, I had NO idea this happened to Jane. I am very new to her blog, having come here thanks to a mention of it on Rosie’s blog. Was the trashing just because Jane wrote in defense of Rosie? I am so sorry this happened.

    I realize I might sound paranoid, but I sometimes think by and large the hate spewed in the comments sections of these gossip sites mirrors the hate I’ve seen by right-wingers on news sites. Or even on sites that discuss popular culture.

    I have seen tacky, awful comments posted by left-wingers, too, but more often than not it is from the other side of the aisle.

    Which makes me think this mode of communicating your dissent is something kind of new, inspired by the right-wing ranters on cable TV shows & radio. It is distressing when young people are imitating this behavior.

    Again, I am very sorry to hear that this happened to Jane.

  • Hi Prudy, oh there was a little trashing, and even hurt feelings (believe it or not) over the Rosie thread, but it’s been an ongoing thing. If it wasn’t the TMZ’ers when I wrote about Anna Nicole, it was people who made up whole stories out of tidbits of knowledge and reams of ill-intended rumors, or individuals who would attack me or other posters for views, including those they totally misunderstood through their poor reading skills — then act like the wronged party, and demand apologies. I am so over those kind of people! And strangely, yes, many of them are from the right-wing. It seems to be the new American religion of blind, illogical hate.

    QV, Thanks for the kind words. I still enjoy the internet, but life is short and it’s just time to concentrate on projects that will, I hope, really make a difference, for those who really want a difference made.

    That makes sense to me anyway. :-)

    L. Davis, I get you too, and totally understand.

    Allison, I love the way you express your thoughts! You have a gift.

    Isabel, I agree culture is becoming ever-colder. I think we’re in for a change though. I hope so.

    To everyone, some great posts and thoughts here. Thank you!

  • Hi Jane,

    I used to be a part of a pretty active and large AOL group that went through a lot of the same thing. People got in fights and then it wasn’t enough just to leave they had to start trashing people. Sometimes I think the internet just gives people license to be as rude as they want, but on the other hand I also think it’s a wonderful place to meet similar people and be infused with new thoughts.

    As a newcomer too, I thank you for your blog.

  • Jane,
    I didn’t read your Anna Nicole Smith story, so I don’t know what you said. I can only hope that the hatefulness you experienced came “only” via comments on your blog and e-mails rather than trashing you elsewhere on the Internet. I can understand completely why you’d have hurt feelings.

    Good luck to your with your novel! I hope you keep us all posted as to when it is coming out so we can buy it. Your blog has come to mean a great deal to me in the short time I’ve been aware of it. It is an antidote to all the hateful comments I’ve read elsewhere on the Internet. I no longer read them on tmz (and rarely read tmz anymore, either) because it makes my soul feel sick, as lame as that may sound.

    You’ve done a good thing with your blog. You’ve restored my faith in humankind. Thank you.

    Prudy, yes, I’ll keep everyone up-to-date, and I will still be posting once in awhile and emails are always welcome. Maybe I should leave an open chat thread for discussions between posters; it’s a thought. Thank you so much for your beautiful words. - JD

  • p.s. - If anyone did not get a site update email from me today that would like one, please let me know.

  • Somehow I knew you would Jane.

    Peace to you always, online, offline and in every way.

  • Hi Jane,
    Bravo to you for taking on and commiting yourself to your novel!
    The moment I began reading your articles I knew you were a differant and very gifted writer. I have spent many hours on your blog reading articles I had missed. The diversity, warmth, compassion, truth and knowledge of what you were writing had me coming back again and again. Your absence from your blog will be sorely missed, however, I will continue to come to read and re-read the things you have written.

    To whomever is responsible for taking anything from this blog and “trashing” you on other websites, SHAME on YOU.

    The tranquility you have created here gave me the courage to actually post a time or two. I have never done that in all the years I have used the internet. Your kindness to your bloggers is touching, your loyalty to truth is refreshing and your ethics beyond reproach.
    Although I am feeling a sense of sadness, I know that will go away when you are recognized as the brilliant writer that you are AND I can say geez, I knew her when,,,,,,
    Thank you Jane for the hours of thought provoking reading! Good Luck with the book!

  • Ditto to what Kathy said! And said well! Kathy, I hope you post more often. Don’t even know you and like you already.

    (Got off to a bit of a rocky start here because I identify myself as republican, but I’m old-school Republican. Less taxes. Less government. Not the new school, mean kind that’s mixed up with some form of Christianity that makes no sense to me.)

  • Hi LBJ,

    Thank you so much for your kind words.
    I knew you were a person to be respected when you contiued to stand by your convictions in spite of so many differances. You will never convince me that the Republican party is for the people of this great country but because of you I know there are a few “good eggs” in the carton.


  • Along with conviction, respect is a funny thing. Bush has convinction that what he is doing is the right thing for America, but I don’t respect him. His “followers” have conviction that Bush is doing the right thing, but I do respect them. Respect them enough to know that they don’t need to be deprogrammed and I realize that there are more than a few, perhaps a few plus infinite, good eggs in the Republican carton.

  • Jane thank you for all the wonderful, and sometimes gut-wrenching articles you have given us! You are sure to write a brilliant novel.
    Thank you for providing us with this open forum. It has been a wonderful experience for me here ever since I read the Rosie article. I too have gone back and read previous ones and am captivated by all your stories. And I have been up-lifted in spirit hearing all of our stories. We are all out there facing life, and I do feel we are connected.
    I hope to hear more from all of you. Jane, keep us posted, we are all sending warm well wishes your way.
    Oh, I just have to tell LBJ:
    Thank you for standing up!
    I do remember conservatives like you. The kind of republican that was good for the mix of our society. It is so good to hear from one who still remembers what that means.

  • hi jane,
    i haven’t posted much cuz everybody pretty much says it all
    but i want you to know that i read every day and have learned so much, and felt so much, from your words.
    i’ve also gotten angry with people with you and for you. there was the nerve of others to question stuff like your coffee fund! jeezus. it was like
    they just had to find something to latch their hate on to! by the way, like lbj i am
    republican (but not a bush republican). one of the blogs i read is look at the column on the right! that writer also has a way
    for people to contribute, and no one on his site says a dang thing about it! and he’s way more out there with it than you were, he asks and you never did, and he works for some really highbrow publication! he probably wasn’t reported to the irs!!!! jeezus, people are so awful sometimes.
    makes me ashamed to be part of the same species.
    makes me proud though to have been a part here. you give me hope.

    your biggest fan from AK!

    Rose, wrote you an email. - JD

  • Rose, amen!

    I think I am one of the few people here who has met Jane and spent time with her in person. Cindy, one of the other people, said Jane was very warm and caring. That is very much who Jane is. She leans forward into a conversation and understands everything, even the things that aren’t said. She is generous to a fault and would give the shirt off her back if someone needed it. She gets taken advantage of, as she was in the case you’re talking about, but she’s ALWAYS hopeful, and always ready to help the next person.

    I lived close to Jane and wanted to know her better, but for some reason I was nervous to approach her and talk to her. I didn’t have to be. She’s got a very down to earth way about her, and is just one of those people you feel hugged by even before she actually hugs you. And when she does hug you, whoa! All that beautiful, loving energy is just poured into you.

    Jane, sorry if this embarrasses you. :-) I just wanted people who know your goodness her to know that it doesn’t fade, but only grows in person.

  • Jane, I am also a writer and avid reader, and I remember the plethora of recipe-food based books after “Like Water” was published.

    It’s rather like what’s become popular in poetry, which is the poetry “slam” type of monologues which all begin to sound the same after awhile.

    The independent publishing houses are as nepotistic as the larger ones, and the days of any unsolicited manuscript being accepted are all but over. Agents are required but the reputable ones want to see a body of work in the mainstream as well as the smaller publications.

    Much talent goes to waste.

  • Even though I havent posted replies in sometime. Im still reading……Gonna Miss you. Im still working on my book and like I said before I have you to thank. I havent forgotten that you get the first autographed copy since you gave me help in deciding the “Doctors”name.
    I havent done anything with it lately Im so busy with My mom and the wedding two weeks from Saturday~~~~~can ya believe it?
    Im glad we met. Ill stay in touch.

  • You said exactly what I would have Barbara! Another Minnesotan? Will you also be at Tina’s concert? If you don’t already have plans, ask Jane for my email. I’m getting a group together for dinner before the show. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

  • Kathy, thank you so much for your post. I am glad you feel welcome, because you are, as is every person who comes with good intentions.

    Allison, that connection is real, and important. I’ve read your posts about politics and would like about 40 million more citizens with your insight. If those of us who care about the situation can keep that connection, and keep it growing, we will make a difference. Hopefully, we’ll start in 2008 with a new direction.

    Rose, it will all be okay. The whole coffee fund & google ad issue, and the focus of some people on it, is really kind of funny. Only on the internet.

    Barbara, you almost made me cry, but you know everything you said about me can be said about you. I enjoyed spending time with you, even if it was in “snootsville”. LOL. And if you’d like Laurie’s email, let me know.

    Liesel, the poetry slams drive me nuts! I was a judge for one a few years ago and while many of the young poets were talented, there is a very basic sameness to slam poetry. Much of it is also very self-obsessed, and leaves me waiting for a more universal message. As for lit. pubs, the other downside is the cost of subscribing or buying, which you really have to do to get a feel for the type of work they accept.

    Mish, I am so happy your mom is recovering! That’s great news about the wedding. Glad to hear, too, you’re still writing. Please stay in touch and let me know how it’s going.

  • “publishing , by and large, has become a copycat industry, growing less innovative, taking fewer risks, and over-relying on the formula of one bestseller to generate interest in others of the same genre.”

    I whole heartedly agree with you. There’s just not that much risk taking going on anymore and I think things are getting boring. I think that before the internet and 8 million channels of cable tv, it was easier for writers and artists to be more authentic because it was harder to compare yourself and your product to everything else because there was no access to it. If you wanted to know what people thought of your piece in a magazine, you had to wait until the next issue to read the letters to the editor and hope to see your name next to nice words. In between issues of magazines and book releases, you wrote or painted or worked on whatever your dream was without constantly googling your own name for praise or disgust. It was so much easier to be REAL when there was less input. Isolation can be a good and beneficial thing for creative types. Everything is so immediate now. It’s a really tricky thing. We thrive on the feedback when it is GOOD.

    “When it comes to star-breaking, the public seems to take a perverse glee in smashing imaginary pedestals and treating with contempt those who have tumbled back into the merely mortal sphere.”

    This seems like a good time for a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird (I was going to quote Neil Diamond, but…):
    You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

    So few people seem to live by that rule anymore.

    I’ll quote Neil on your next blog post :)

  • Kathy expressed my sentiments best. Jane you know I am one of your loyal readers. I will miss you!! Best of luck with your book.

  • If I have veered off topic, please excuse me. LBJ, you said you were part of an AOL group that started name-calling, etc. Were you referring to the existing group of posters, or did you mean trolls? I’ve noticed that on an exisiting group I sometimes am a little active on, a troll will plop down & derail things, and cause others to pop up–others who I guess have been reading & seething silently over things they don’t agree with. I haven’t really noticed the commentors turning on one another, though, over disagreements.

    I’ve been wondering a lot about online etiquette, for lack of a better word. It’s baffling to me to see the hateful comments about celebs on a site like tmz. But I sometimes think if there have to be such comments, better that they go there, in that circus-like arena, rather than on a blogger’s site such as this one? I’m not excusing those comments at all. I’m just trying to find a rationale for so much hatefulness being posted. I wonder if some of the commentors there don’t realize the celebs might be reading it, and are possibly thinking it’s just being funny. Again, not excusing them. Just trying to figure it all out.

    On blogs it is sometimes hard to keep in mind that a lot of people might be reading what you post and that you can offend unseen readers when you post things that the active posters agree with. When I found Jane’s blog I read many but not all comments; and some but not all of her articles. (Only for lack of time–not lack of desire!) My sense was that it was a sympathetic-to-the-left type of blog, and I’ve cast comments that criticize the right side of the aisle without thinking I’m offending people who read this and don’t agree with me. It’s an argument I guess for posting to sites that “sing to the choir”–though of course I do want to hear other points of view, and I do try to seek them out in venues such as op-ed pieces in newspapers.

    If it’s murky for someone like me, who in real life trys hard not to offend while at the same time wants to speak out and work for causes I think are beneficial to society, it must be truly murky for individuals who aren’t prone to worrying about offending others.

    The Internet is still so Wild West…..

  • Dear Jane,
    That ‘media machine’ knew exactly what they were doing, months ago when I came here via QV and Art Harris.
    I knew it then and…’they’ didn’t either…LOL!!!


  • I have been here for a long time, Jane, but even if you know who this is please do not reveal my name. . .(msg. deleted, see note below)

    Anon., not sure who you are, but I thank you for your support. I prefer not to engage in that kind of discussion here, though, even if it’s supportive. People who want the truth ask questions and ask for the proof. If they’re not doing that, then it’s because they don’t want the truthful answers. - JD

  • Long time Jane, though not intentional. :-)

    I read your post several times and thought, really, that’s what some people do to each other in regular life as well. Those kinds of people are probably just more vocal about it on the net, where they have free license to attack celebrities. Harder to do that as openly to your coworker, neighbor, acquaintances.

    As usual, enjoy your writing very much and wish you all the best with your new venture. Will you be writing about what you wrote about here? I hope you’ll let us know your progress.


  • Prudy,

    Jane has always done a good job of keeping the riff-raff out so that people who want to gather and really talk about things can. Once in a while, something nasty will get through. Best ignored, they will go away.

    There’s no internet etiquette, it is different for every site, but here people don’t take offense at other views unless they’re rudly written and you are anything but rude.


  • Prudy, no it was a gay women’s message board forum on AOL. Some of the people on it had been there for fifteen years, maybe longer. I posted on it for about four years. It was, as you can imagine, very clique-ish, but every so often a new person would be welcomed and stay. In all, there were probably about four dozen “regulars”. There was the occasional disagreement, stomp off, and come back and apologize that happened. To be expected in a community that size. Then two of the regs got into a really nasty fight, and everybody divided, taking the side of this or that person or just being angry that they wouldn’t take their fight to email. A fight between two people ended up being a fight between dozens. The board never really recovered. And a whole lot of people were genuinely heartbroekn because that board had been a place of enjoyment and escape for them.

    The wild west is a good description!

    Don’t worry about offending me, Prudy. I’m happy to hear divergent views because, like I said, even when I disagree, they give me food for thought.

  • Jane:

    I don’t know what we are going to do without you. the people you have drawn to this site have been remarkable. Intelligent. loving. supportive, there is not enough space to say what I would like to say. You are a woman of rare courage and forgiveness, you have taught me to say my piece,and be done with it, but never say something to deliberately hurt or belittle anyone. Also you taught me how to stand firm and how to laugh at some of the nonsense that I came across. It is not only celebrities that have to run the gauntlet, it is something every one of us have to do at some point. Their are truly vindictive people in this world and their lives are truly empty without the “high moral values” they th row our way.

    Jane, I am truly going to miss you. I willkeep you and your daughter in my prayers. You will do well in what ever you chose to do.

  • Prudy:

    I won’t speak for other’s but I enjoy hearing differing opinions, as long as they are respectful. It is good to have a good disagreement once in a while. The way I look at etiquette, I act as I would in someones home.

  • Jane this is for you;

    Love, always
    Inspire others ,always
    Find the good ,always
    Encourage others, always

    Lynda Curran-Scott
    04 17 2000


  • I have a question? What is spam?

  • Lynda,

    That is so beautiful. I have printed your comment and posted it on my work board, and will read it often. Thank you so much for your warmth, compassion, intelligence, and encouragement.

    I will miss being here everyday, too! I feel like this is a family room of sorts, where we’re just sitting around talking. It’s been, for the most part, a great experience.

    I won’t quit posting altogether, though. Just not very frequently. And please Lynda — everyone — let me know what’s new in your life through emails!

    Lynda, spam is like those emails about Viagra. On the board, lots of spammers try to get in to post their links to adult sites, car dealers, or even virus sites. I put hate posts in the spam folders.

    :-) Bless you, Lynda, with everything good in life!

  • Sometimes I wish I could open up Jane’s blog like a book, and start from beginning to end and read the articles and then the comments chronologically. I tend to just open it up and start reading wherever, and I sometimes have to stop and pick up later and I forget where I was. I’m always reading things a little out of sequence here. It’s a little like a mystery, too, in that I don’t know what a lot of you are talking about in terms of previous articles that provoked controversy and hateful comments….

    LBJ, thanks for sharing. Wow, that was a long time for a group to be together. What a shame that it splintered like that. Sad.
    The group I am thinking about seems to be possibly becoming derailed by a troll or two who aren’t smart enough to ever present even basic counterarguments about the issue being written about (it’s as if they don’t read the posts clearly or thoroughly) but do have some type of smarts in terms of deceiving people into thinking they are not trolls but are merely asking legitimate questions that happen to be contrary to the views of others are thus have been unfairly categorized as trolls. I’m actually thinking of not participating anymore because it seems like a waste of time; however, a part of me keeps thinking if I do leave, the trolls will have won. Won what? I ask myself. Won another heart or mind…which could result in voting in way that will in one way or another hurt others.

    I have to say that I am not interested anymore in hearing the opinion of others on some things! I know, that makes me sound “intolerant.” But it’s true. I don’t want to hear one more time from an anti-gay person that they “don’t hate the sinner” but “just hate the sin.” I don’t want to hear it. I don’t care how sweetly they say it, I’ve heard it one time too many. I can agree with someone in a social setting to just not discuss things for the time being. I certainly don’t walk into someone’s home and bring up things just for the sake of ramming my opinions down their throat. But to hear a sweet little old racist or homophobe tell me her opinions is not anything I have any interest in hearing anymore.

  • Prudy:

    It sounds like you have been threw the ringer once or twice! The way I look at intolerant, hurtful people, is they arespeaking from lack of knowlege and compassion. Some times it is best to let these people “win” the battle. The war will rage on forever. pick your battles and move on, to a happier place, integrity intact.


  • Jane:

    I’m glad you like my poem, It is realy such a simple way to live your life, and teach your children.

    Thank you again for everything you teach us.


  • “In that extraordinary other-world of fame and fortune, celebrities become plasticized images, to be divided, drawn over, crossed out or rearranged to suit the machine’s bottom line — and consequentially, the created “public demand”.”

    Sometimes they are plastic. I grew up in the fast fading middle class of
    Santa Barbara, and worked for Hollyweird studios for four years
    before moving to NYC. I can honestly say that I have met some terrific people,
    stars and other creative people, but there is a big subset among those
    who are the stereotype or so much worse. Shallow, totally self-obsessed, totally uncaring about other people, snappish, demanding, snotty, and rude. And actually,
    the worst types are the ones with the least talent.
    People like Barbra Streisand are pros in every way, despite what the National
    Enquirer says. She was always gracious and polite. Other people, people you
    would never suspect of being total jerks, were and lorded their slightly elevated
    position over anyone they could.
    I work for a major talent agency in NYC now and oddly see less of that here.
    LA’s “laid back” atmosphere is anything but. NYC is faster, people and action-wise,
    but the people tend to be more real. And I’ve found that as far as plastic people
    goes, the same thing I learned in LA applies. The better the talent the nicer the person seems to be.
    Weird, huh?
    Just wanted to share my experience. Enjoyed the article Jane.

  • Lynda, loved your words too! Great ones to live by!

  • Prudy, I know what you mean. I think it has to do with age/solidness. When I was younger, I just loved to debate, it was pure adrenalin joy, and I’d argue so passionately for my views. SOmewhere in my late thirties I lost that desire. My beleifs had solidifyed by then, and I knew exactly what I felt and why, and learned that it’s futile to argue. Minds are rarely changed. I include my mind in that. I will listen to the other side as long as they’re reasonable. I want to hear what they have to say. Sometimes I may learn something new. But the extremists never get my ear and don’t have anything to teach me. IMHO.

  • MM, what celebrities did you work with or know? SPILL THE BEANS! :-)

  • Britany has all the money in the world and there’ s no excuse for her not getting her act together for those kids, which she shouldn’t haev had if she wan’t ready to be a mother in the first place. I have no pity for her. Other people do it with much less helo and no money. She is and has acted like a spoiled brat.

  • Dear JD,
    What a naive fool I’ve been, to believe, and to allow myself to be lead on by the ‘machine.’
    They are just as bad as Anna Nicole and her mom, and Howard K. Stern and his sister, and Hef…and those like Geraldo, and Greta, and Nancy (although I think I like her the best) and, a bunch of power hungry, money grubbing Agents/Brokers, Lawyers/Politicians, CEO’s, and/or Celebrities.
    It’s not the money…it’s the obsession…instead of working, many get paid, and get rich to play. And they don’t do anything good for less fortunate people, except maybe pay their maids and buttlars, and chauffers, and servants.
    What a wonderful world we live in today in the good ol’ US of A.
    Love Always,

  • Awesome article, Jane.