Why do more people watch American Idol than the nightly news? What is it about Paris Hilton’s dating life that lures us so? Why do teenage girlswhen given the option of pressing a magic button and becoming either stronger, smarter, famous, or more beautiful”predominantly opt for fame? In this entertaining and enlightening book, Jake Halpern explores the fascinating and often dark implications of America’s obsession with fame. He travels to a Hollywood home for aspiring child actors and enrolls in a program that trains celebrity assistants. He visits the offices of Us Weekly and a laboratory where monkeys give up food to stare at pictures of dominant members of their group. The book culminates in Halpern’s encounter with Rod Stewart’s biggest fan, a woman from Pittsburgh who nominated the singer for Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Fame Junkies reveals how psychology, technology, and even evolution conspire to make the world of red carpets and velvet ropes so enthralling to all of us on the outside looking in.
Jake Halpern is the author of Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction, and Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and Other Extreme Locales, hailed by Bill Bryson as a splendid and engaging account of stubbornness in Modern America." Halpern has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, LA Weekly, and many other publications. He is also a commentator and freelance producer for NPR’s All Things Considered. He lives in Connecticut.
Surveys that Halpern cites indicate that younger Americans would rather be a Hollywood celebrity -- or a celebrity personal assistant! -- than president of a major corporation or a high elected official. I'll pass on the opportunity to sermonize about that, but Halpern's useful book doesn't exactly leave one brimming with optimism about the American future.