Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Awful Conundrum of Superstardom

I’ve come to think there really isn’t much more you can do about depression than you can about your ring finger being longer than your index finger. You can of course undergo psychotherapy,. I have had lots and lots and lots of it — some from nincompoops who spoke of my inability to Establish Boundaries and kept glancing at the clock to see if they’ve earned their $60 yet (this was years ago, obviously) to smart, kind, insightful people who made lots of interesting and maybe even accurate observations that I savoured intellectually. None put a perceptible dent in the ugly black limousine in which my boredom and despair travel. Of course, if psychotherapy doesn't appeal, you can — and, indeed, will be encouraged to — try psychopharamacology. The problem being that the magic little pills that make  you feel marginally less desperate, will also mute your libido. 

Let's face it. If you're born depressive, there really isn't an awful lot anyone can do about it.

When I go into my darkest places, I feel worthless and meaningless, bored and purposeless, a waste of space, in the wonderful British locution, a nobody, a never-was, a loser. But then I think about such notable spiritual forebears as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, and realise that even those with the grandest purposes have spent huge portions of their lives feeling wastes of space. If I were made King of the World, I would expect to be fantastically happy and fulfilled for a couple of weeks, and then, regardless of my grand good works, to feel a piece of shit again. It’s who I am.

All I’ve ever wanted is the Pope’s balcony — to be adored so fervently by so many that a deafening roar of delight greets my every stepping outside for breath of fresh air. But in the past few years, I’ve come to recognise that depression snickers contemptuously even at the mass adoration for which I’ve long longed. 

During my friendship with Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, who were gigantic in the UK, and remain fervently loved both here and in Europe, I saw time and again how he’d get home from a sellout European tour and immediately start trying to drown himself in vodka. When I happened, quite by chance, to bump into my one-time idol Pete Townshend a couple of months ago, he was so disconsolate as barely to be able to speak. 

And now I read that Jim Carrey, who at one time was a bigger movie star than Rick was a rock star, has recently achieved a major breakthrough in his own battle again depression, and is able to describe himself as “sometimes happy”. Whoopee! In his glorious autobiography, Bruce Springsteen, whose balcony the Pope might well wish were his own, speaks of depressions so severe as to be immobilising. 

I get now why so many famous and universally adored musicians, actors, artists, and writers who seem to the untrained eye to Have Everything drink or abuse. Imagine that you enter adulthood feeling not good enough, not loved enough, not something enough. You pour yourself into your art or craft imagining that mass adoration will at long last change that feeling. When it doesn’t, you might be worse off than when you started, for back then, you could at least hope. It must be like being painfully dehydrated in the desert, and realising that you’ve been dragging yourself with the last of your strength toward a mirage.

I suspect that the bigger a star you become, the harder it gets. Imagine that your fans are spending $125 on a ticket to see you perform. At that price, they're going to cut you an awful lot of slack, and to be very intent on convincing themselves they're hearing and seeing something quite wonderful, even though you recognise your own playing or singing as subpar. It's bad enough when, on a night you've performed well, the audience's delight doesn't fulfill you, but wouldn't their deilght at a subpar performance make you feel not just unfulfilled, but mocked? What could be more soul-destroying than the realisation that your audience couldn't tell, or didn't care, if you were awful?

No comments:

Post a Comment