May 1, 2007: Bob Mould's Take on Fame and Sycophants
Don't know who Bob Mould is? Don't be surprised. He's a DJ and writer whose latest piece on Fame and Sycophants is on the D.C. City paper, for which he writes a column called Ask Bob.
On the one hand, I read it and thought, "I could see writing this if I am Angelina Jolie, chased down the street by hundreds of paparazzi and known in every country. Why Bob Mould?" But on the other hand, Bob makes some very good points, for the uber famous as well as for the sorta famous. Here's his take, which is worth thinking about in our fame and celebrity-driven culture:
I have always wanted to ask you about what it is like to become famous without seeking it. How did you deal with that when you were younger, and what would you recommend to talented artists finding themselves in an awkwardly “famous” spot?—Michael King, New Jersey
You are the company you keep. I have noticed, during busy or high-water periods in my career, that I am approached by people who may be interested in associating with me; to what end, sometimes I can’t discern. Usually, we share nothing of interest or value. It’s good to remember who your true friends are and to try not to let notoriety or fleeting success interfere with those friendships. There is a big difference between friends and sycophants.
Humans enjoy validation. We want approval and recognition of a job well done. I believe most people who acquire fame are true to their hearts; but when one listens to the wrong people saying the right things for the wrong reason, it is usually the beginning of the end. If you stay true to your work, your friends, and your heart, fame can be an enjoyable experience. And when it’s over, you’re still left with work, friends, and heart. If you trade them away for something less permanent, you might never get them back.