Fame Isn’t So Famous Anymore

Once upon a time, and not so long ago, people who never went to a horse race still knew the names of famous horses–Man O’ War, Whirlaway, Sea Biscuit, Silky Sullivan, Secretariat, and on and on. But if my life depended on it, I couldn’t name a single horse racing today.

People don’t fare much better. If you never picked up a golf club, never watched the game on TV, still you knew the names of famous golfers–Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus.

Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano weren’t boxing anymore when I was a kid, but everybody knew their names. You might not know the first thing about baseball, but unless you were living under the polar ice pack, you knew the name of Mickey Mantle. Capablanca died years before my birth; but before I knew how to pronounce his name, let alone knew how to play chess, I knew he was a famous chess champion.

So who are the great golfers of today? The great boxers? Who fills Mickey Mantle’s niche? Who care’s who’s the world chess champ?

This is very odd. We live in a culture that’s crazy for celebrities, that generates celebrities: where the most common answer given to pollsters asking high school kids, “What do you want to be as an adult?”, is “Famous!” (Famous for doing what, don’t ask.) This is the age of the Kardashians, who are famous without having done anything at all.

Our celebrities–remember “Snooky”?–streak across the sky like meteors and burn out just before they crash. We can’t remember what they were doing up there in the first place.

Remember when Simon and Garfunkel sang, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?”

No one is going to sing, “Where have you gone, Honey Boo-Boo?”

2 comments on “Fame Isn’t So Famous Anymore

  1. I’ve watched the video of Secretariat’s ‘Belmont Stakes’ race over and over, and every time it gives me chills. What a horse!
    But you are so right. People are famous now for NOTHING. “Oh! One of the Kardashians got married, and here is all the latest on their wedding!” “Oh! She got divorced!” Gossip used to be made fun of, but now the ‘news’ is made up of nothing but gossip. Maybe that’s because it WAS made fun of, instead of being condemned. I despise having these celebrities shoved down my throat all the time, so I haven’t checked the news in months. You and my dad are my primary source of current news 😀

    1. Now, Kardashian racing, that might be something. Secretariat was surely more intelligent and a better conversationalist than any of that brood.

      The other day I saw that some baseball player I never heard of just signed a $240 million contract. (BTW, I am a walking baseball encyclopedia; but I gave it up after the last strike and the fake home run race.) Our celebs may not be justly famous anymore, but they ain’t cheap.

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