I read an article in W Magazine about Persians flourishing in Beverly Hills and it made me confused and depressed. It really is a strange immigrant tale - rich Persians escape the grips of the Islamic Revolution to make more money in Los Angeles. Where is the underdog story in this? That they were called "camel jockey", or that the now grown children of these immigrants get to not where a veil? I don't get it. The story of people being wealthy doesn't illicit any pride in me for my countrymen. I am more proud of the person who works at Wall Mart, has two kids, and spends the weekends doing Darkon. What's the story for these people? I used my father's millions to start three more companies and open a night club, and he serves on the executive board of my company. That's so weird.
What I have in common with Persian immigrants who moved to Beverly Hills is the same that 99% of any ethnicity would have to immigrants who moved to Beverly Hills -- nothing! I have no idea why ethnicity and religion are even mentioned. Does Kevin West, the author of this article, think that escaping the Islamic Revolution gives people some kind of street cred? What about escaping Uganda or Afghanistan? What about escaping the United States?
I think articles that champion money and wealth as the markers of success in the world do more harm than good. Yes, I understand that if these folks did not escape Iran, they would not have these opportunities. I can clearly see that they are funding Presidential campaigns and the American economy. I get that they are making more money for people all over the world and palaces that overlook Los Angeles. I just don't see how any of that matters.
Of course, this same article is the same formula journalists use to champion Brad Pitt or Kim Kardashian. The money is sometimes replaced for beauty or fame, but the affect is the same for me -- antipathy and alienation. I would so much rather read an article of substance. Tell me the story of one of these entrepreneurs who was able to deal with a difficult situation in their business. Take a Brad Pitt story and recycle it for one about a guy in a local band who has played the keys for the last ten years and still gets a kick out of it. Make Kim Cardashian a woman on welfare getting her GED and working at McDonald's and going to night school. Who knows? You might just widen your readership and bring people more in touch with the majority of human beings who coexist with them.
Do we really need articles that list the prices of homes and wardrobes? Would it be strange to list my apartment rent price and gym wardrobe I got from Eastern Mountain Sports for $34.99? Could we even go as far as to ask why the interest in the first place?
Fame doesn't make life any better.
If you are in a band and you got people buying your CDs and fans coming to your show, that's plenty. No one said you had to be on Rolling Stone.
If you're an actor and you got some indie movie role or community theater or Youtube project, that's killer! Rock on! No one said you had to be on Access Hollywood.
If you're a poet and you got a cup of coffee and a couple notebooks to show for it -- without any publications or professorships, that's alright! No one said you had to have those things.
I don't know. I suppose people are often mislead to believe they want things because they see others pine, worry, and claw over objects and identities. I remember I thought I wanted a Cabbage Patch doll because I saw others playing with them in mid 80's. I got one. I played with it for a week. I went back to Star Wars.
If someone made the movie, Mars Bars, and gave me another hero and action figure who I could pretend to be, I suppose I would be him or her...
I guess that might be it -- we need to pretend. We read about others living a certain life and we pretend. We might confuse hard work and passion for a simple day of work on American Idol. We might subtract 10 years of playing the keys for one month on America's Got Talent. Then slowly, bit by bit, we wade ourselves into the mediocrity of fame itself. Suddenly, everyone can have a bit of fame if they get enough hits, make the right viral video on Youtube, or catch the latest police bashing on their mobile phones.
I can now see how Joaquin Phoenix would be disenchanted with his role as a movie star and try and choose another role. I can see why Kurt Cobain would create lyrics that would analogize fame with rape. Once one is a star, it is difficult to change a role. You can't simply move to another country and be "you" -- although Jeremy Irons, Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis, and others, might find it easier if they do so. In the end, they will still be a lion, a pirate, and a Mohican.
That's why being you in what you do without apology, approval, fame, or money, will lead you to a happy life. You don't need to be an immigrant, a Jew, or a Karadashian. You don't need to be Brad Pitt, President Obama, or a perfect son or daughter. You don't need to marry right, go to a cotillion, wear a dress, or put on a crown. You can simply choose to live the life you have without control or inferiority. You can even choose to improve upon a talent and have it lead to money and fame. Anything is possible. Just don't live your world around an endzone. There are other ways to get accolades. Who knows? You might decide to do the Superbowl Shuffle all the way down the field. No one said you couldn't. You might even write a blog post about how you dance naked all the time.