Keeping my ear to the pulse as one does when involved with the world of arts and entertainment, I heard recently of a dispute involving rapper Kanye West & pop princess Taylor Swift where he mentions her in a song that doesn’t paint a very nice picture of the pop star. Denying she had ever heard the song or knew the lyrics, West’s wife Kim (for those who are too holy to know) decided to release a video where Kanye is speaking to Taylor on the phone about the lyrics in question and whether or not she would be okay with it. Seemingly, Taylor seemed fine with it and even praised West for even considering to tell her about them.
While this is an ongoing dispute where both parties are denying any wrong – it got me thinking about the greater world of entertainment and in particular the aspect that relates to a four-letter word that is almost a curse word within some Christian circles– FAME. I was thinking about the structures and processes of what it means and what is takes to become and stay famous in what can be easily portrayed to be a dog-eat-dog environment. I tried likening it to a kingdom and that didn’t work, and then to a government which proved more relatable but still it didn’t really fit. After using a few more different vehicles to try and explain and process the world of fame a light-bulb switch on in my head and dollar signs began to flicker in my eyes – IT’S AN ECONOMY.
Fame is built largely on investment and return. The currency is exposure and the value of that currency is based upon the public opinion of the entity that is trying to own as much of the market as possible. You can loan fame from other entities “famous people” by using equity of one’s own fame often known as collaboration, or endorsements or in more noble endeavours becoming an ambassador of some sort (which can often backfire like in the case of West & Taylor). At the sway of public opinion and popularity share prices can plummet and a global-financial crisis can occur – but the one rule of the ‘Economy of Fame’ that doesn’t apply in real world economics is that all fame is loaned and not owned (and almost always has steep interest rates) and the rate at which one person can become a shining light to millions of people is nothing compared with the rate at which that star can fall into sheer oblivion – some would say at the drop of a dime (excuse the pun).
No wonder why the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 1:24
All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls
… All you have to do is replace that word flesh with FAME and you could easily say the same thing. Which poses a good question – Is all fame of the flesh? Is all fame stemmed from a place of love for money? And hunger to be known, recognised and loved by many? Or is there a way to use the economy of fame in such a way that gives glory to God? I would say yes there is. The story of Joseph and the technicolored coat is an excellent example of that – in turning what was meant for evil and using it for good.
The real question that we who have any kind of ‘fame’, ‘notoriety’ or ‘prominence’ need to ask ourselves is – are we investing into the economy of fame for ourselves? Or are we making what platform we have count for a cause and a greater economy that is far larger and far more worthy of investment than ourselves?