Article XIII: Famewhore

Written by:
Jacob King

If we're being honest, we all have a little Kardashian in us…

That do-anything-to-build-your-instagram-game virus that keeps circling our heart, trumpet in hand, just looking to destroy and reshape an honest and vulnerable presentation of ourselves.

It’s one of the things that I love about music. In our Insta-culture where it is all too easy to “sell out,” music is still the one of the places where someone can truly be authentic about what's really going on under the hood. You have to love pulling up at a stoplight and seeing some bald-headed, overly-tattooed dude, singing his heart out to his favorite high school jam, “Mr. Jones.” ‘I feel ya, fella.’  

Adam Duritz, the lead singer of Counting Crows, seems “so free, so loose” in the “Mr. Jones” music video that rocketed him to the stars. He was recently on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast and Rogan said to Duritz:

“I remember watching “Mr. Jones” on MTV… I love that video… I was like, I want to be that free.”

Duritz seems free, indeed, when dancing and singing his heart out in the video. And in the lyrics, which he personally wrote, he was able to be real and honest about that deep insta-desire many of us find lurking in our hearts — a craving for fame:

When I look at the television, I wanna see me staring right back at me/ We all wanna be big stars/ And we don't know why, and we don't know how/ But when everybody loves me, / I’m gonna be just about as happy as I can be… /Mr. Jones and me… gonna be big stars.

In psychology this desire to be a “big star” is labeled as the fame motive: “To be noticed, to be wanted, to be loved, to walk into a place and have others care about what you’re doing, even what you had for lunch that day: that’s what people want,” Dr. Orville Gilbert Brim, a psychologist and author of the book Fame Motive says.

And this fame-bug isn’t just present in the hearts of those inhabiting the land of Hollywood. Surveys in Chinese and German cities have found that about 30 percent of adults report regularly daydreaming about being famous. This desire transcends oceans and hemispheres, and is even as old as time.

So it’s not a new desire, but as Dr. Brim’s research revealed, “We all need to make meaning out of our lives, and this is one way people attempt to do it.”

But what happens when someone who deeply craves fame realizes it won’t be achievable in their lifetime? “These yearnings can become more acute in life’s later years, as the opportunities for fame dwindle, but the motive never dies, and when we realize we’re not going to make it in this lifetime, we find some other route”:

posthumous fame.

“It’s like belief in the afterlife in medieval communities, where people couldn’t wait to die and go on to a better life,” Dr. Brim said. “That’s how strong it is.”

If Dr. Brim is right that fame-sickness has existed as long as people have been around, does that answer why John and the other early disciples would have spent their lives spreading news about Jesus? Was it just self-serving?

I had to ask myself this: even if he didn’t claim the resurrection because of a dragon-sick desire to amass gold, he definitely could have lied for the fame of it all. Because of the horrid persecutions at the hands of Emperors like Nero, John and the others had to come to grips with their impending deaths, with little hope for them to achieve wide renown in their own lifetime. Yet, in the face of this reality, their desire for fame could have become all the more “acute,” leading them to seek death for the posthumous fame of it all – their own resurrection, of sorts, through eternal remembrance. 

Was it possible that John could have been tricking millions of people into drinking his Kool-aid and dying horrendous deaths… all in the hope of being a religious rockstar till the end of time?

I mean, there are heaps upon heaps of churches named after him worldwide, all having a marble statue out front with him looking pretty damn good. 

If he was looking to stroke his own ego posthumously, it seems to be mission accomplished. Even Elvis, Bob Marley, and the Beatles combined don’t have 1/1,000 of the art dedicated to their lives that John has. 

Was John really just a famewhore? 

This fame conspiracy seemed very plausible on the surface, especially considering how prevalent the fame motive virus really is. And it's even more convincing when you consider the enormous posthumous fandom John achieved. But when I read through John’s own account of himself, and the other witnesses’ accounts of themselves, I was perplexed. Their self-presentations were some of the most non-Kardashian, non-Instagramy, approaches to self-portraits I have seen.

If John and the others claiming the resurrection were looking for endless ego massages, they did a pretty… actually more like a really, crappy job. Their self-portrayals were nothing short of brutally honest; and, it isn’t a good look to say the least. If they were sharing their stories in a 21st century Instaworld, it would be a hard pass because of the cringe. Yet, as I read all their accounts I had a weird revelation: it started to seem as if this was their goal all along

For one, John admitted to shamefully wanting to burn a whole city down when the townspeople refused to let Jesus preach in their homeland, earning for himself the nickname “son of thunder”.

Luckily for those inhabitants John was strongly rebuked by his much wiser and more merciful teacher.

More awkwardly, John spoke of their extreme cowardice, recounting a time when all of them hid in a locked room, shaking with great fear, after Jesus had been murdered. He also shared how the women disciples braved the risky journey to weep outside his tomb, no matter the consequences. That’s right — HE was in a room shaking while the women were the ones outside with the gahones.

And the worst one is when John and the other disciples reported their own betrayal of the worst kind, confessing to leaving their leader and friend abandoned and alone, at a time when he was most in need. John even went so far as to admit being so scared before Jesus’ trial that, when the authorities tried to seize him by grabbing his linen cloak, he stripped himself of it and ran away completely naked.

Unlike the psychotic cult leaders of the past who bathed and basked in the false self-representations that served to bolster their demi-god-level reputations among their followers, John and the others seemed to take a dramatically different path. Their writings highlighted their own weaknesses. They always noted that the good they accomplished only came through the Voice. And when they were left to their own devices, by their own accounts, they failed miserably.    

Unless John faked this whole thing in an “acute” desire to look like a giant, “posthumous” ass… I couldn’t see any reason he lied about the resurrection in an attempt to stroke the ol’ ego. So I’d ruled out money and fame as possible motives.

But there is no way he was off the hook. These witnesses were all guys –  twelve to be exact – and if I have learned anything in my many years of experience in men’s locker rooms, it’s that old guys are very comfortable in the nude. But I also overheard, way too often, another major motivation in life — probably the most obvious one, and one that has led many a man into making compromising decisions: sex.  

The Next Article: Sexcapade

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