Dr. J. is not into the celebrity worshiping culture of 21st Century America. He has very little to no interest into which celebrity couple is enjoying its beginning or meeting its end, who wore what to the latest self-congratulatory awards ceremony, or who is wearing what tiny bikini on what island getaway. Ok, maybe Dr. J. tunes in to What Would Tyler Durden Do for that, but that’s about where he draws the line.
Dr. J., of course, brings this up because of Whitney Houston’s premature death. When Dr. J. heard the news break on Saturday, he figured that her sad death was another accidental overdose of prescription drugs. Rather than write a polemic on celebrities sense of entitlement and the enabling physicians wishes to attempt to treat the stress in these celebrities lives with sedatives and narcotics (sometimes resulting in a mix of agents in the same class, which can be quite dangerous), Dr. J. is going to play a game of compare and contrast regarding the lives of different types of celebrities. There is a lot of generalizing, (as celebs and non-celebs can succumb to addiction, no matter where they live) but it is to make the point.
First, Dr. J. will talk about the bi-costal celebrities who typically live in LA or NYC, or both.
Many of these celebrities are, or were, huge, and live in the principal environment for their work. This is completely reasonable. But, the market is so competitive that exposure, exposure, exposure is a critical part of their game. They have publicists for cryin’ out loud. While the paparazzi chase these folks and photograph their every public move, more often than not, they are the ones who tipped off the press to their schedules. Also, Dr. J. suspects that these folks tend not to be able to out into public with out being faced with throngs of adoring fans. These folks, as a consequence can successfully hide from the real world. After all, even if you know your favorite celeb lives in Beverly Hills, or on the Upper East Side in NYC, what are the odds of you, a fellow New Yorker, or LA resident, running into them? Pretty darned low, unless they step out of their bubble, or you crash the bubble (which Dr. J. does not recommend because that’s pretty creepy in itself). The reason for this is obvious. LA and NYC are so huge that the celebrity is afforded a certain amount of privacy. You aren’t going to run into a movie star at the supermarket, or pediatrician or the PTA meeting because their market, doctor and school are probably (if only by mass effect) the same one your are using to start with. They food shop, and go to the pediatrician and send their kids to the school that is the same as 0.025% other citizens. In addition, celebrities try to control their exposure, and as a lot of people stand to make a lot of money off of controlled exposure, colluding parties play along. That in itself must create a lot of stress for these individuals, and even greater stress when circumstances reel beyond their control.
Now, contrast this with the typical Nashville celebrity. Nashville is a small city of about 500,000 people. Davidson County (the county comprising Nashville) is surrounded by 8 counties, called the ‘donut’ counties, bringing the greater Nashville area up to about 1.5 million. It is two orders of magnitude smaller than LA or NYC.
Because of the music industry, a significant number of musicians, and a handful of movie stars call Nashville and points south home. Because the city is comparatively small, 500,000 people, 10,000 people comprise 2% of the population. As a consequence, celebrities can’t go anywhere without being seen. This, truth be told, works to their advantage. They are ultimately left alone. Kelly Clarkson and Kelly Pickler (of American Idol fame) like the same Mexican restaurant that Clan J. frequents. The Lil Resident, an aspiring singer, approached them to say she liked their music, while they were waiting for a table (yes, they were standing and waiting for a table like everyone else), exchanged pleasantries and moved on. In other words, kids might say hi to a celeb, but that’s it. Their kids go to school with everyone else’s kids as there are a finite number of independent and public schools to choose from. The Lil Resident dances with a couple of kids with celeb parents that we’ve gotten to know through our children. We’ve seen celebs at church. One bluegrass artist in our neighborhood who walks by our house everyday has on occasion complimented our landscaping. One time, when the lil resident was getting bored at a restaurant, Mrs. Dr. J. took took her to the lobby, and the wife of a celeb couple did the same, and the kids played and the mom’s talked mom-stuff. You get the idea.
Because of their ubiquity, their privacy and space is both necessarily and ultimately respected and they’re treated like regular people. This is, in part, because they usually act like regular people. Their job is in the entertainment industry, but they, by and large, at least the ones that Dr. J. is acquainted with are otherwise relatively normal folk. Dr. J. suspects this is why tragedy, such as what befell Ms. Houston, and a legion of others before her, doesn’t typically happen to the typical Nashville celebs. There are always exceptions.