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The usual cynic's choice is to ask, what would you rather have, fame without power or power without fame? Yet even a cursory look at contemporary society reveals that celebrities have managed to devise a third choice: fame with power.
There is no shortage of for instances. Take Ronald Regan, who went from fame in Hollywood to power in Washington. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has so far gone from fame in Hollywood to power in Sacramento, with his eyes on DC, if his advocates can only get the constitution amended so that a born Austrian can run like a born American. Given the proportion of immigrants who now inhabit the land, the likelihood of Presidential power for the Terminator is hardly out of the question.
Of course, there are also lesser and more numerous instances of the celebrity's ability to combine fame with power. How about Mel Gibson, arrested for DWI and a month later we noticed that the arresting officer was being investigated?
Or Barbra Streisand telling a fan to shut up with a word that is not usually accepted in public discourse and then blithely continuing her tour. What if a relatively powerless person like a Senator, say, John Kerry had said the 'F" word, as in getting "stuck in f-ing Iraq?" The man would have been sent beyond temporary oblivion and been made to resign from the Senate.
Finally, we have Paul McCartney, who, though embroiled in a divorce where his bride is accusing him of abuse, was able to attend the premier of a new classical piece he managed to compose at The Albert Hall.
The time has obviously come when cynics should adjust their choices.
It seems that the only people who are in a real pickle are the ones in the unnamed group – those without fame or power. Well, that seems to include most of us. But what would all the celebrities do without us to play to? No audience, no performance.
So we come full circle, not as cynics but as optimists. Sure, there are the secretive few who have power without fame. But most people, who seem on the surface to be distinguished by neither fame nor power, may actually possess the most power, at least, over that uniquely famous and powerful group we refer to as celebrities.
Tom Attea, humorist and creator of NewsLaugh.com, has had six shows produced Off-Broadway. Critics have called his writing "delightfully funny," "witty," with "good, genuine laughs" and "great humor and ebullience.
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