Who are you when you’re famous?

Does being famous and rich mean that you must compromise on who you thought you were, so that you can be what the people want in order to propagate your own success? Or does your success depend on you being different from a majority of people, where you must maintain a certain standard of outrageous behavior to please your fans? Do you change with fame, or do you tailor your perception accordingly? Does perception become the most important thing in your life? Or is it the most important thing in your life regardless of how rich and famous you are?

I don’t mean to bamboozle you, dear reader, with all these strange questions about the celebrities and what-not. I’m merely questioning the nature of identity for celebrities, a truly mind-boggling concept if you think about it.

I like watching talk shows because John Locke said that a thinking, intelligent being can consider itself as itself in any situation

The media industry profits from talk shows that have celebrities talk about their present and upcoming endeavors, chatter away about their vacations, pets, family and play silly games that enrapture and delight their audience. But does anyone really understand who they’re watching on screen? According to John Locke, “as far as [a] consciousness can be extended backwards to any past action or thought, so far reaches the identity of that person; it is the same self now as it was then; and it is by the same self with this present one that now reflects on it, that that action was done”. In simpler words, memory is a necessary condition of personal identity. If one can remember having an experience, then one was the same being then and now – basically the same person.

If celebrities are putting on a different version of their true selves for their audiences but sharing authentic memories or experiences of their own lives, we can conclude that either a) Celebrities temporarily lose their personal identity in the public eye but are unaware of this as they share authentic memories and experiences – this means that while celebrities put on a show and hide aspects of their “real” selves in front of the public, they aren’t bothering to change their memories or experiences accordingly. This creates a contradiction where the concept of personal identity is blurred and the audience is seeing the paradox play out right in front of them without realising it or b) Celebrities are completely aware that they are not being themselves but they use the memory of experience to reinforce personal identity, and thus be perceived the same away from the public eye – This means that celebrities are completely aware that they are putting on a show for the public and that their fake persona is necessary to maintain (for whatever reasons), so they consciously use authentic memories and experiences to express their true identity so that when they are not in public, they can seem themselves as the same person and not a paradox. Geddit? I might’ve written complete garbage but hey you’ve come this far so here comes my next exciting hypothesis :

If we all are just a collection of perceptions, can we say that Kanye West perceives us as himself?

David Hume said “For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception”. David was concerned about perception when he saw himself as relative to everything else around him. Now imagine a famous person seeing a reflection of their own perception of celebrity in the eyes of the audience that made them famous. If our own selves are “relative” as Hume believes, then we are clearly reacting a certain way to how people perceive us. If we want to be perceived a certain way, we will adopt a certain behavior to encourage that perception.

Celebrities are grappling with this at multiple levels. I’ve listen them down :
1) Level 1 : Perception of self – How celebrities perceive themselves to be as actual human beings
2) Level 2 : Perception by the public – How celebrities think the public perceives them
3) Level 3 : Perception of the public – How celebrities perceive the public, which in turn affects how they think they are being perceived
If Kanye thinks he’s God AND he thinks that his fans think he’s God, then isn’t Kanye projecting his self onto his audience? So, to Kanye, isn’t he and his fans…. the same? To be honest, I was never really a fan of hip-hop.

While personal identity is a fascinating concept to explore from a philosophical perspective, a person who is widely perceived to be someone
i.e. a famous person brings in exciting complexities to the discussion. I highly doubt the execs at Hollywood ask celebrities about Hume or Locke’s views on personal identity as a way to gauge their psychological health but in the end, identity dictates how we live our lives and what people think about literally anyone else. Identity is at the root of major political and social movements and its importance seems to be increasing as people grapple with that it means to be truly themselves in a world that is asking you to be a number of things at any given point. Do you also wonder about what it means to be yourself? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. Identity, represent.

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