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Celebrity Watching! Oh, wait. Never mind…

June 20, 2010

It happens to all of us at some point or another. Maybe at the airport, or perhaps at that fancy restaurant you’ve been saving up to bring your best girl to. You are positive that you have spotted a celebrity. The reaction is typically something along the lines of “Oh my god, that is…? Yes! Wow!” After the initial shock of seeing someone in the flesh whom you were perhaps unsure existed other than on book jackets or in major films, you find yourself running through a rather odd series of emotions associated with a somewhat strange decision making process. This experience will of course vary immensely, but typically runs a similar course (though with the possibility of halting at any step).

The first impulse is to run forwards, thrust out paper and pen, and beg for an autograph while fawning most sick-makingly. For some, the process ends here, but for others, this is just the beginning. For those continuing, the next step involves a sudden burst of self-glorifying, imagined maturity, involving the interested party deciding against the mad rush forward, as it wouldn’t do to look like one of those immature people who do such things. Here again is a possible end to the progression, as most such sightings are rapid affairs, taking only a short period of time, and thus not allowing for a continuation. But for others, the process has really only just got under way. The next step is a sort of weighing of the value of one’s own personal dignity against the value of a brief but close and personal encounter with a celebrity. This portion of the process can be quite unpleasant, especially for individuals with a perhaps inflated self-regard, who might rather not think of themselves as capable of stooping to such lows as rushing a celebrity and acting like a teenage girl with her head cut off (or do I mean chicken? Oh bother, I do seem to have mixed a metaphor with a quaint saying). In my experience, self-respect tends to loose the battle, and even distinguished businessmen find themselves patting their pockets for a pen.

Once the decision has been finalised, the approach must be made. This can happen in a large number of ways, but typically takes on one of four general forms. First we have the “Rush”. The “Rush” is the previously mentioned repressed schoolgirl approach — in other words, a rapid, noisy attack, likely involving such phrases as “Oh my god! I can’t believe it’s you! I love your movies/books/television adverts!” and “Please oh please oh please sign this scrap of paper! PLEASE! And do please let me have your children”. Second is the “I’m going to be smooth”. The “I’m going to be smooth” is a rather awkward approach, if not perhaps as remarkably so as the “Rush”. Individuals typically attempt this approach after signing a truce with their self-respect requiring them to endeavour to maintain it. This is the typical style of the aforementioned distinguished businessman. Third is the “Not for me, for my cousin’s best friend”. The “Not for me, for my cousin’s best friend” is for people who would like to think that their self-respect has won the battle, and that they have managed to develop a plan of attack guaranteed to leave their character untainted. This style of approach can of course be take by anyone, but is most typically associated with priggish schoolboys on holiday and older people who feel they should be above such behaviour. Finally, there is the “Why hallo there”, which is the approach of the entirely unselfconscious. This of course occurs almost infinitely rarely, as such an individual is quite uncommon and difficult to find.

As you can see, there is a lot involved in approaching a celebrity, and the process can be quite soul-searchingly difficult. There is the spotting, the deliberation, the approach, the asking for the autograph (part of the approach really), and then there is the awkward “wait, that was it!?” Amazingly, this progression only runs to completion in a very small number of cases. In many situations, the process take a course more along the lines of: the spotting, the deliberation, the approach, and the “oh bugger”. This is of course what happens when it turns out that the individual in question is not in fact the believed celebrity, but rather is so little like him or her that you are forced to question your own sanity.

This entire exercise can lead over repeated exposure, to instability and eventually institutionalisation, therefore forcing me to caution all those of you who feel a desire to add celebrity watching to their regular people watching activities. I highly recommend you leave such specialised work to the professionals — tabloid writers and paparazzi.

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From → Celebrities, General

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