Why Are We Such Fame Whores?

In her Salon piece, “A Nation of Attention Whores,” Mary Elizabeth Williams asks why everyone in this country seems so starved for fame. I think that very question is on everyone’s mind after the recent “Balloon Boy” incident. As Falcon Heene vomited on national television, you couldn’t help but feel sick about being taken for a [balloon] ride by his fame whore papa. And that’s just one of many examples of how people are doing crazier and crazier things to get their 15 minutes. Others: Meghan McCain’s boobs, Jon and Kate, Susan Boyle, OctoMom, Real Housewives, Perez Hilton—the list goes on and on. Ever since the evolution of reality TV and the internet, it is easier than ever for anyone to get famous for just about anything. No talent, intelligence, or hard work required. But why are we so obsessed with fame? Williams thinks it’s because of our suffering economy. Is this our way of trying to grasp the unattainable brass ring of the American Dream? The dream used to be work hard, contribute to society, make enough money to provide a comfortable life for your family, and then retire an old and happy man or woman. But, oh, how things have changed. We can’t believe in that dream anymore because it doesn’t exist. It seems like the only way to get rich quick is to (a) be born that way (b) marry into it (c) steal from others, à la Bernie Madoff (d) win the lottery or (e) find a way to get famous. Clearly, the easiest option is “e” and it seems to be our new American Dream. Why work hard when you can win a reality TV competition, make a funny YouTube video, have your blog made into a movie, or have lots of kids as a gimmick? [Salon.com]

So what do you think? Why are we so starved for fame?