Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be famous.
Sometime in the 90s, when Mel Gibson was still married to his ex-wife and they’d had six of their seven kids, I was reading an interview with Jodie Foster. I’m guessing it had to be in Premiere Magazine, but I don’t really remember. Something from that interview stuck in my head. Ms. Foster was talking about fame and the effect it has on a person, how when you’re rich and well known most everybody in your life wants something from you, and you don’t know who to trust. And she said, “Why do you think Mel Gibson has so many kids?”
This stayed with me because it made me incredibly sad. I tried to imagine being a big star, with everyone telling you what you want to hear and trying to get a piece of you, and the only way you can trust anyone is to create them yourself, because kids don’t care that you’re famous. To me it sounded like those poor unloved teenagers who have babies so that someone will love them unconditionally.
I don’t know much about Mel Gibson other than what I’ve seen in movies. I did just listen to the tape that Radar Online says is Mel Gibson saying some pretty hateful things to his ex-girlfriend and mother of his new baby (they’re in a custody dispute with multiple restraining orders and all sorts of nonsense). While it’s pretty awful, it’s private. My husband and I have been together for more than twenty years, and if someone had been recording us fighting they would have gotten some pretty hateful shit on occasion. Not anything as bad as Mel, but nothing I’d want public. I have to assume that that was made for the purpose of the custody dispute, and I fear for the future of a baby created by a guy who seems to be a sad, pathetic jerk and a woman who’s looking an awful lot like a conniving gold-digger.
But whatever Mel Gibson has said and done, the racism, the antisemitism, the misogyny, the drunkenness, the rage, I have to wonder how he would have turned out without the fame and fortune and fans. And I wonder about my own latent pursuits of fame. I doubt that most famous people start out wanting to be “famous.” I think most of them probably just wanted to make a living doing something they liked. It’s cool to get up each morning and do something exciting, something new, something easier than punching a clock. But it’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of success, and to listen to the new people in your life, and forget that your success can mean success for those orbiting around you, so they might not have your best interest at heart.
So what about Mel? Would he have been a normal, rational person without fame? Oprah Winfrey says that money is a magnifier. Small problems become bigger with money. And I’m guessing that fame works the same way. Fame doesn’t make you a racist, or a womanizer, or a homophobe, or a jerk. But if you’ve already got that in you, it gets stoked and magnified. And you end up making an ass of yourself very publicly.
My kids both want to be “famous.” They see celebrities on TV and they want it. They want the cars, and the money, and they want the hordes of screaming fans. They’ve both been bugging me for almost a year to get them an agent. And I keep making excuses and delaying it, because it terrifies me. I would love for my kids to grow up to make a living doing something that they love. I want them to pursue their passions, no matter where they may lead. But I wouldn’t wish fame and riches on my worst enemy. There are just too many sad examples of how it goes wrong in a big way.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage.