Sunday, August 03, 2014
Review of "Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame" by Ty Burr
I love Ty Burr's writing and his deep insights. So when I learned that he had written "Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame" I immediately ordered the book. When it arrived, I placed it in the queue on my "To Be Read" shelf, and there it sat for far too long. Each time I would reach for it, another title near Burr's book would whisper to me: "Shouldn't you be reading something IMPORTANT - history, biography, a classic novel, a business book?"
I finally pulled the book from it place on my shelf and dove in. I am sorry that I waited so long. This book is IMPORTANT. It is not a fluff piece about Hollywood, but a reasoned examination of the arc of stardom and fame from the Silent Film era to the era of Selfies and Twitter. It is also a very well thought-out philosophical examination of the nature of identity.
As always, Mr. Burr writes with artistry and clarity. His prose is beautiful and provocative.
Here is a sample to help to convince you of the truth of what I aver:
"Here, in the end, is the revelation that all of stardom works to deny, the dirtiest and most unfathomable secret . . .It's that identity itself is the grandest illusion of all. What if the sum of who we are is not a magical inner seed that only fame or self-actualization can cause to bloom? What if we're not all the things we wish for or blog or project, but simply the actions we take for ourselves and for others - our marks upon the waking world? What if we are what we do, not the other way around? Stardom is the best dream we've yet invented, a luxurious fantasy of the fixed self. The question we need to ask ourselves is how long we want to keep sleeping, and what we'll dare to do when we finally wake up." (Page 352)