Shamans and heroes! Serial killers and singers! Fame. The subject of fame is cool as hell because it’s one of those other things that’s completely unique to humans. It’s the state of being known or talked about by many people, especially on account of notable achievements. People the world over know who Tom Cruise is. It doesn’t matter if they’re young, old, rich, or poor. So where did this kind of thing come from? What are its humble beginnings?

There’s a term called altruism that is the belief in or practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others. In ancient times when our ancestors practiced in the life of hunters and gatherers, the hunters would often find themselves in dangerous scenarios. For example, we can imagine an encounter where a sabre-toothed cat. (BIG side note here but apparently the term ‘sabre-toothed tiger’ is incorrect, and even sabre-toothed cat is close to a misnomer {a wrong or inaccurate name or designation} where the sabre-toothed thing’s genetic lineage is actually closest to marsupials! {like kangeroos or opossums!} But that’s niether here nor there.) In ancient Canada, a tribe of humans would typically scatter away at the sight of a sabre-toothed cat, hoping the predator wouldn’t chase them from the others. But now imagine a man at the back of the pack, noticing their son or best friend at the front… and in that moment the man decided to run toward the beast, sacrificing his life to save the life of the others. The man would indeed most likely die from this encounter, and the hunters that returned would hail praises at the man’s altruism, or heroics. They knew of no such words then, but the rare ideal to strive towards would have been set in the tribe.

As once something that no one yet knew they could be, the idea of a hero set itself upon civilization. Tribes that never met would all have similar encounters of singing praises to one doing something selfless, through pure chance, before it became ingrained into humanity’s conscience as a whole. But, as we are social creatures of all different brain chemistrys’, tricksters too would come out of the woodwork. After all, many heroes perform feats of greatness and live to tell the tale, and tales are so easy to fabricate, so these tellers of tall tales would sow seeds of grandiosity to anyone that would hear it and do what they could to swindle those around them. Everyone wants to be a hero, but not everyone has the courage or opportunity to excel themselves to that status level.

Now, there were other forms of fame that spread word across the lands of early civilization, and those were the opposite of heroes: those were the monsters. Ones to fear, that killed women and babies, or performed cannibalism. These individuals had tribes across the land warn all they could of their evil deeds. As time moved on, both leaders, inventors, and killers were talked about by the masses across even larger stretches of land. To be famous was a thing people of all walks of life could achieve if only they were loud enough. Before long, entertainment grew in popularity. What was once something localized to theatres or circuses, entertainers could now be found at every city with a nickelodeon. (Not to be confused with the children’s channel owned by ViacomCBS, a ‘nickel odeon’ was what existed to show citizens motion pictures before movie theatres became commonplace.) Great dancers, singers, and actors stole the hearts of millions with their performances. It wasn’t long before Hollywood changed who we considered famous.

Infamy through wrong-doing hadn’t changed in the slightest since the concept’s birth, but fame was now for the taking by anyone talented or attractive enough. Interestingly, though, since the popularization of reality television in the 80’s and 90’s to what it’s become now, for one to be famous, you need only be a fucking wreck of a human being. Okay, that’s probably not granted. There’s tons of reality T.V. that shows decent people living their life or completing difficult puzzles, but so much emphasis has been put on people living their life wrong now-a-days like in 90 Day Fiancée. It has become something people love watching, and it’s clear to understand why. One might think, ‘my life might be subpar in my eyes but at least it’s not as bad as this person.’ Watching people be absolute disgraces is like a confidence booster! It feels good to know you’re better than someone else, that’s just how our brains work. It’s probably why jesters were such a hit for royalty back in the day. If the king wanted to de-stress from a long day of making potentially wrong decisions, he could just watch an idiot bumble around.

You could have thousands or even millions of people notice you on the street because of your career choices. You could be noticed as someone great, someone silly, someone disgraceful, or someone dangerous. You could choose to be someone famous, or it could happen against your will. You could be someone who thrives from all the attention, or someone who crumbles from it. Alternatively, you could be someone who seeks fame your whole life but never gets it. Fame, as stated at the beginning, is a uniquely human trait. Our closest genetic cousins, chimpanzees, hold many similarities to us like social class and war but even they do not register fame. Fame is a part of the language game. It’s the retelling of an individual without them there, be it for good or ill. It’s the recognition of someone’s existence without their recognition of yours. It’s the masses’ acknowledgement.

Do you want to be famous? Why or why not? Let me know! Thank you again for stopping by. I love you all, and I’ll see you next time.

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