Seems that even superstars get their credit cards declined.
Pop singer Adele was shopping in San Jose, California the other day when an H&M store would not accept her credit card.
But in a way it wasn’t. Reports are that nobody even recognized that it was the pop singer proffering the plastic.
Somehow a celebrity who attracts thousands of screaming fans in concerts and millions of them at home can shop in San Jose and not even be noticed.
Yes, it happens all the time. You could bump elbows with celebrities anywhere and not know it. They are the masters of disguises. After all, they have to get out and about just like the rest of us, and while some of them have “people” who go about their chores for them…well, everybody likes to go into the world and do some shopping themselves sometime.
And that’s exactly what they know how to do…and do in such a way that you won’t even notice.
The takeaway from it to me is how celebrities are, at heart, just people like anyone else. But if you put an ordinary person up on stage in fancy clothes, people don’t get all excited. Why is that? And is it possible to do so?
On second thought, that may be what reality shows have been trying to do…with mixed success.
It’s also interesting that many can avoid the paparazzi even when they pretend they’re being bombarded. True Adele, for as recognized as she is, isn’t, say, in the same league as Jennifer Aniston. But she is certainly a big deal, yet she slipped out of fame’s spotlight surprisingly easily. Makes you wonder if all those “famous people” getting nailed by TMZ every night don’t, well, maybe have their publicists call the photog to tell them their client will be in a certain place at a certain time.
Adele says that although no one knew who she was, she was nonetheless “mortified.”
And she adds that she’d been able to use the card at other stores that day, implying it was all H&M’s fault, a software glitch or something.
But people were surely standing around her in line as this happened—and never knew it was she.
The opening scene in Entertaining Welsey Shaw is like this, with Welsey in line with civilians in a Manhattan Starbucks. I wondered as I wrote it how believable it was that no one else would recognize her, even though she’s hidden behind sunglasses and drab clothes.
Since then I’ve learned it happens every day. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban once came into the coffee shop where I have written much of Entertaining Welsey Shaw. Ironically, that was one of the rare days I wasn’t there. I had to hear about it second-hand from staff. (And all the while I was home I kept thinking, I should head over today; I feel like I’m missing something.)
Back to Adele—maybe try your AmEx at Nordie’s?
They tend to have nicer stuff anyway.
Jennifer Aniston is tired of people judging her by her body.
Her…well, look at the picture.
The perpetually-in-the-news-even-though-she-hasn’t-done-anything-notable-in-decades actress complained recently about all the body shaming that’s going on in Hollywood. She is among a growing number of stars who are angry because they can’t tuck into that bacon cheeseburger, as they have to keep their bodies perfect for the camera.
“The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty,” says Aniston.
Sounds reasonable. But Piers Morgan is having none of it.
The British-born celebrity sleuth says the former Friends star has made her fortune off her bodacious bod, and should, basically, STFU, because she’s a hypocrite.
He says she’s reaped as much from the objectification as it’s taken from her. He says she’s helped create the attention by posing for dozens of magazine covers over the years that he says have been airbrushed to improve her looks.
Mr. Morgan continues
You may want to dismount from that high horse at this point, Jennifer.
There’s another reason why the media objectify and scrutinise famous women, and why little girls get confused about beauty and body image.
It’s this: female stars like Jennifer Aniston deliberately perpetuate the myth of ‘perfection’ by posing for endless magazine covers which have been airbrushed so much that in some cases the celebrity is virtually unrecognisable.
Not a sympathetic ear, is he?
But he makes a point. The manipulators benefit from the manipulating.
Welsey Shaw certainly knows how to do this, as do all great celebrities. (And yes, there are “great” celebrities and “not so great” celebrities. Some just can’t handle fame, and whatever their talents they disappear in a tear. Others with no great talents seem to be with us forever.)
She would say it’s fair game, that you use all the tools you have at your disposal, and when you’re in your 20s and 30s, your bodacious bod is one. Aniston has probably made enough dough off her flesh to afford her scrumptious $22 million Bel Air mansion. With that as the reward, being airbrushed doesn’t seem like too much of an indignity, does it?
Alas, most of us will never know.
With people feeling humiliated having to go through TSA screenings, perhaps complaining about a little magazine cheesecake seems a bit whiny.
On the other hand, a lot of stars surely get sick of being asked if they’re pregnant every time they put on ten pounds. Welsey Shaw goes through that experience in my novel too. There are constantly rumors she’s pregnant, and she doesn’t like it one bit.
At another point Morgan says, “I’ve been in numerous Beverly Hills restaurants when she’s walked in, and watched as every table descended into an instant frenzy of elbow-nudging and staged whispers. I suspect the same thing happens wherever she dines in the world.”
He seems to miss the point: she can’t control this and probably doesn’t like it.
It gets old really quick.
Here’s Aniston’s entire text.
And here’s Morgan’s entire reply.
Does he have a point? Or is his point of view off-base?
Kylie Jenner has a confession: “People think that since we have a reality TV show and I show so much of my life that they know who I am. But on Snapchat I show people what I think they want to see.”
Okay I’m actually writing about a Jenner/Kardashian. Time to start looking for that Fourth Horseman.
But seriously, I thought what she had to say in the recent issue of Allure magazine (my bible, in case you’re wondering) was very relevant to all celebrities, not just those we’re sick of.
Jenner says—surprise, surprise—most of her glamorous life is made up, and that the image she puts forth on all the social media sites is “a projected image. A brand.”
She explains why: “I usually don’t show my true personality to the world, because when you open yourself up so much, there’s more room for people to say things about you.”
Welsey Shaw could relate. The notoriously reclusive star of my novel avoids letting people into her life because for the famous, privacy is the one thing they cannot buy, and at the same time the most valuable commodity.
Some celebs build up a phony social media presence, like the Jenners and Kardashians. Some avoid it all together, like Claire Danes and Jennifer Lawrence. “We work so hard to maintain some sort of life and privacy, why would we intentionally put ourselves out there?” says another Jennifer—Aniston this time.
Back to Kylie.”I can’t remember what it’s like not to be famous. So I’m able to appreciate what true happiness is all about,” she insists. That quote could have come from Welsey Shaw. In another interview, from February, she says she’d like to move out of the spotlight, as Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and so many others have. “I want to be a businesswoman,” she says in another recent interview, “and be behind the scenes. Kylie Jenner needs to retire.”
“People think that because we have a reality TV show that they know everything, but it’s like, I’m not filming right now. That’s maybe 5 percent out of my day.”
This last quote made me think of two movies, one recent and well-known, the other older and obscure. The well-known one is The Truman Show, which had the character Truman Burbank living in a round-the-clock reality show that he thought was his real life. The movie came out just before the deluge of TV shows depicting unscripted people began to appear, and remains astonishingly prescient.
The other, older movie is called Real Life, and it was made by Albert Brooks in 1979. Like most of Brooks’ work, it has slid into obscurity, which is too bad, because it’s brilliant.
The movie is about a TV filmmaker who wants to film a Phoenix family in their everyday life. But he soon discovers that this is pretty dull, so he starts tampering with reality. This raised a question back in 1979 that people in more modern times seem to have forgotten or not realized: how do you portray your intimate “reality,” whatever that is, with a camera operator inches from your nose? The mere presence of a film crew alters how you act, what you do, whether you realize it or not. And there’s no doubt reality shows are heavily tampered with—ever notice how every episode of Masterchef or Undercover Boss follows pretty much the same structure? Brooks knew back in the 1970s that when a camera intrudes, “reality” goes out the window, and we start posing, no matter how much we might think we’re being “natural.”
And eventually it must get wearying. I really, truly believe Kylie Jenner when she says she’s sick of this facade, and wants to chuck it. But so many are drawn to it because it empowers while not really requiring any particular talents. It’s the classic Faustian bargain—give me your soul and I’ll give you whatever “riches” you want. But after a while, many decide they want to take those souls back. After all, there’s always a fresh supply.
Ms. Schumer had a terrifying run-in with a “fan” last week.
The comedian was out and about when, “This guy in front of his family just ran up next to me scared the s*** out of me. Put a camera in my face. I asked him to stop and he said, ‘No it’s America and we paid for you‘ this was in front of his daughter.
“Great message to your kid,” she added. “Yes legally you are allowed to take a picture of me. But I was asking you to stop and saying no.”
She originally said she would no longer take photos with fans, but has since modified that to she’ll take pictures with “nice people.” This illustrates the co-dependent relationship between stars and their fans, who can either make their career or do them serious harm, and even murder them in cold blood. And there’s no real way a celebrity can tell the difference.
It’s long been this way. Sylvester Stallone told Roger Ebert once that every time someone [a fan or “outsider”] touched him, his hand automatically balled into a fist. And Cliff Robertson, described by famous screenwriter William Goldman as one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, said he is always wary when out in public, looking around at who’s watching him. The advantage “they” have, he told Goldman, is they know who you are, but you don’t know who they are.
The man who took the selfie with Schumer,Leslie Brewer, has his own account of what happened. He claims he pulled out his camera to Instagram the sighting of Schumer, but backed off when she asked him to. “She says I got all up in her face, and it was completely different from the video.” Brewer posted an edited clip where he grins into the camera as he says, “Sorry.” Schumer then asks, “Can you delete that?” It’s followed by a shot of him saying afterward, “Then she got mad at me.” The post is captioned, “Amy schumer just got mad at me and cussed me out lmao!!! Awesome.”
It doesn’t end there.Brewer says Schumer began walking away but then turned around and returned. She apparently wanted to turn the tables on him, saying she was going to take her own picture of him and share it with her four million followers.” And he now says, “You’re a celebrity. I understand you want to blast me but that’s petty, that’s beneath you.”
Messy, no matter which version happens to be true.
One of the reasons we’ll never really know celebrities—and one of the things Entertaining Welsey Shaw is about—is that they’re under this hyper-intense light of observation all the time, with standards that are different than the standards applied to the rest of us. To some extent this is justified: the law defines public figures—and affords them levels of protection—differently than ordinary people. They don’t have the same expectation of privacy. But they do not give up all their privacy when they choose fame, or fame chooses them.
But fans will always feel they owe us a level of devotion that’s higher than what’s expected of ordinary people. They’ve got the two things we all think we want, after all: money and fame. If a superhero has superpowers, he’s obligated to use them to save us. All the time. No matter what.
For that reason, we’ll never see them as “people,” and they’ll never be judged the same way as everyone else. So we can never really know them. What we see of them is like a hall of mirrors, distorted by what we expect, what they want to show, and what we feel they should show.
But every time an incident like Schumer’s happens, the line of what’s expected and what’s okay changes, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. This 24/7 social media world is making it increasingly difficult to define what’s acceptable interactions for stars and their fans—and what is not.
Kristen Stewart took the words right out of my mouth.
The Twilight star says in a recent interview she and most actors feel isolated by their fame.
She tells the new issue of Loaded magazine that famous people aren’t seen as approachable by…well, the rest of us…and as a consequence they spend a lot of their time being very lonely.
Not that the average person, seeing them surrounded by flashbulbs and adoring crowds on the red carpet, would think so. When the studios are packaging and presenting them, they appear to be people who have it all, who live the perfect lives we all want.
“Actors become so isolated. It’s like people aren’t allowed to talk to us. Like if you’re a big star, or whatever, if you’re like a famous person, it’s kind of lonely. Like people don’t want to talk to you.”
She goes on: “You’re just constantly thinking about what other people are thinking about you. I think it’s people who want to be movie stars – and this is such bullshit – but the life really is a huge driving force in so many actors and actresses. Solely. And they won’t be happy at the end, because they’re not doing anything for themselves, everything is for someone else.”
I was struck by how much this sound like Welsey Shaw. There’s a scene in my novel—which is going out into that mysterious place called Agentland right now—where she quotes a mantra from her therapist, the one stabilizing force in her life. “My therapist constantly warns me against confusing fame with love,” she says. “He tells me that fame isn’t love, that love comes from someplace else.”
This is a riff of a quote from Claire Danes, who once said, “I think people confuse fame with validation or love. But fame is not the reward. The reward is getting fulfilment out of doing the thing you love.”
But Stewart takes it even further. She talks about the need for validation and approval in ways I’d have thought, if I’d put it into Entertaining Welsey Shaw, would have been too over-the-top. Apparently nothing in Hollywood is over the top.
“I’ve seen people hire a friend. Literally, like, you hire someone. They’re your assistant but then lines start to blur and now they’re a co-worker, an associate, an employee, my friend, my sister, somebody that I’m attracted to.”
Wow. Friends for hire. Maybe that’s something for the sequel.
In the same magazine, another superstar actress, Keira Knightly, talks about her own issues with fame. She claims all the trappings of celebrity—she’s married to a hot-shot Britush rocker—don’t impress her, and says hubby handles it better than she does even as she says it’s different for men: “I think it’s a very different thing for male bands, male folk. They get adulation on stage and they might get a couple of people outside, but they’re not dealing with a media that is obsessed with female celebrity.”
I’ve written about Knightly before. She seems to keep herself distant from fame and its distortion of reality, going so far as to “hang out” in places like coffee shops and cafes watching other people, so’s not to get out of touch or find herself in a bubble. Again, this is straight out of my novel. I’m glad I seem to have hit the nail on the head, at least as far as how some celebrities handle their fame. There are those who will always live just for the spotlight, even though they have precious little to offer it (won’t name names, but I can think of a whole family of daughters that does this, driven by a very business-minded mom whose very life is a TV show taunting you to keep up with it). The difference between people like that and Knightly and Stewart is enlightening.
Knightly was asked in the Loaded interview about the first time she realized she was famous. She said, “Luckily it was so long ago that I can’t remember what it was like when it happened.” But, “I’m still alive and I’m not a drug addict so it must have been all right.”
As Stephen Sondheim might say, I’m Still Here.