PEOPLE SAY today’s youngsters have no vision. Not true! On a visit to a school last week, this writer was approached by a group of highly ambitious teenagers.
“We want to be famous,” said their leader, a tall 14-year-old named Charmaine. Her shy posse nodded vigorously.
I assured them of my best efforts. “Sure. Now, what sort of work do you want to do?”
They froze, baffled. Clearly they did not expect such a question. A meek girl said: “We don’t want to WORK. We want to be FAMOUS.”
Ah. Got it.
“I see,” I said. “THAT sort of famous.”
You can’t blame these kids. Today’s celebrities don’t seem to feel the need to actually DO anything other than get arrested at regular intervals.
I told the girls that totally effort-free notoriety was hard to achieve, but anyone could be famous in their own circle. “Take me, for example. I am the most celebrated person in the northern hemisphere of my home, when the dog is out.”
The girls greeted this brush-off with contempt. “You’re not really famous,” said Charmaine, folding her arms. “We want to be superstars, featured in magazines and stuff.”
They asked me to give them a fail-safe route to world fame when I spoke to their class, an event scheduled for the following day.
I quickly emailed a couple of image consultants with an urgent question: “How does achieve instant fame these days?”
Eve Roth Lindsay of Savvy Style replied: “How about running naked in front of Obama with a website written on your chest? Oh wait, that’s been done. How about a sex tape that you categorically deny you are in? Oh wait, that’s been done too.”
Ameena Chowdhury, a private consultant, said: “There’s only one absolutely guaranteed way to jump from being a complete nobody to being so famous you appear in history books. You have to assassinate a world leader.”
I spent the next hour trying to think how I could build the advice from professionals into my standard inspirational speech for schools. “Remember, boys and girls, work hard, play hard, kill people and make sex tapes.” Somehow it just didn’t sound right. It was just too…. true.
That night, my mentor/ bartender came to the rescue. “Thanks to globalization and the internet, your friends may already be famous somewhere,” he said.
He told me the story of Allen Rout, a resident of Florida in the US. Mr Rout posted a picture of his baby on the internet. This was the original picture, below.
Someone else in the bar told me that Bert, a puppet from Sesame Street, accidentally appeared as an international criminal mastermind alongside Osama Bin Laden on posters in Bangladesh. (Full story on Wikipedia.)
The next day I told Charmaine’s class: “Thanks to the web, boys and girls, you may already be a star in Croatia or Dhaka or somewhere. The bad news is that it may be as an international criminal mastermind.”
They thought that was cool.
I told you today’s youngsters had ambition.