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Fame: The Hijacking of Reality by Justine Bateman

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

Summary: Justine Bateman achieved fame at a young age when she took on the role of Mallory on the hit sitcom, Family Ties. Over the years, Fame - or the lack of Fame - took its toll.

{Free book alert! I received this advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.}

Review: Fame. It's such an alluring idea. (And awesome Lady Gaga album.) The great goal that many of us secretly dream of achieving. We even start to base our value and success on this idea of fame.

How many likes do you have? How many followers? Viewers? We base our self-esteem on other people's perceptions of us. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. I look at my Instagram and wonder how other bookstagramers have hundreds of followers in a matter of weeks, and feel like a failure. But that's not why I made that account or this blog; I did it because I love books and want to improve my writing. (No, but seriously how are they getting 500 followers in a month??)

In Fame: The Hijacking of Reality, Justine Bateman talks about how the various stages of fame affected her life. But first, what is fame anyway? According to Bateman, it is something that society has created. (Like money. And gender.) Basically, it's all in our head. It doesn't really exist. The jittery, ecstatic feeling you get in the pit in your stomach when you catch sight of someone you've happened to see on TV heading into a Starbucks is only because you and society put more value on them than the pediatric orthopedic surgeon also ordering their morning coffee at said Starbucks. (Plus, no one at work is going to excited when you build up a story by saying "You'll never guess who I just saw as I was ordering my basic PSL!" and end with "Dr. Goodheart...you know the surgeon who saved 250 kids' lives last year." It just doesn't have the same resonance as "Kristen Bell! I know I love her, too!")

Bateman uses personal experiences to discuss the awkward, scary, and humiliating descent into non-fame, while giving glimpses of what it was like in the glory days and how fame has changed over the years. What fascinated me was how she witnessed the shift in our culture to the celebrity-obsessed, social media frenzy it is today. When she was on TV in the 1980s, paparazzi didn't wait to ambush you taking your garbage out in your pajamas and messy hairdo and then claim that you are in a major depression due to a bad breakup that never happened. (As the biggest example of how we over-idolize celebrities to a point where it is dangerous would say: Fake News.) Or how social media gives instant access to celebrities in a way that used to involve postage and too much effort to let someone know that you think they look like a cow who contracted smallpox and hope they die. (Celebrities Reading Mean Tweets is hilarious...but also awful. I mean, people are the worst, right?)

As you may have noticed, this subject was absolutely fascinating to me and Bateman had me hooked from the first page. It was gritty and raw at times, with a lot of obvious passion. Her style of writing felt as though I wasn't reading her book, but rather she was sitting across from me relaying stories complete with inflections and gesticulations. Sometimes I felt that the F-bombs were a tad over-dropped, and some of the stories were introduced and dismissed too quickly, but the point was always made with a swift punch.

Overall, Bateman's blatant, unapologetic commentary was on point. It reiterated what I already knew about our society being totally messed up, as well as made me examine some of my own ideologies of celebrities. It is a good read, especially if you have the desire to one day reach the status of FAMOUS in big, sparkly letters.


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