The Dangerous Side Effects of Fame

The Dangerous Side Effects of FameA toxic mixture of heroin and alcohol tragically ended the life of 31-year-old Glee heart throb Cory Monteith on July 13, 2013. Staff members from a Vancouver hotel found his body after he missed his noon checkout. As soon as the news hit the media, heartbroken fans paid their respects by leaving flowers and messages along the outskirts of the building.

One read, “R.I.P. Cory. Hollywood eats their young. Hollywood North [Vancouver] does the same. The Party. The Drugs. The Excess all Kill.”

It’s not so much that Hollywood eats their young. It’s that we all have an insatiable thirst within us that won’t be tempered with fame, money, power or narcotics.

One scan of the grocery store tabloids and the public learns of the latest Lindsey Lohan or Amanda Bynes scandal. These young stars are fighting similar battles that the late Monteith succumbed to.
But shouldn’t this elite crowd be happy — every single lucky one of them?

What we don’t see or even imagine, is the great deal of stress these stars are under. One bad performance, one social media faux pas, one little mistake or slanderous word and they are in danger of crumbling onto the dreaded blacklist. That’s pressure. That’s our world. That’s the disease of perfectionism that haunts these celebrities.

Fame looks desirable, until we examine the dangerous side effects:

Excessive stress
Max Clifford, Britain’s most high-profile celebrity publicist, shared with Reuters that stars pressure themselves to succeed. Clifford stated that “even at the top, [celebrities] were always worried about who could replace them.”

Worry, fear of failure, and the pressure to outperform their last role puts unthinkable weight on artists, which can prompt self-destructive tendencies. Clifford explained, “People assume that fame and success is all about riches and happiness but, as someone who has worked with famous people for 45 years, I know that is not the case.”

Clifford claims, “The success becomes like a drug to them that they have to have, and they are always worried about losing it so they push and push and work harder and harder. You have to be competitive in these fields otherwise it will not work.”

Unable to keep up with their hectic pace, celebrities often turn to drugs. The pleasurable high not only allows them a state of euphoria, but offers hours of abundant, productive energy.
But there’s a flipside.

When the drugs wear off, the user crashes. Fatigue, depression, anxiety, and the need for another pick-me-up quickly follow. Only this time, they need a little more in order to feel that original elated sensation. One hit isn’t enough. This roller coaster of highs and lows causes many addicts to experience a struggle with depression, driving them back to their habit of choice as a remedy.

A magnification of pre-existing problems
Celebrities have strengths and weaknesses just like the rest of us. Whether they are insecure, pleasure-driven, prideful, or mentally unstable, fame only exacerbates existing problems that the average person is able to easily hide from the general public.

Anxiety increases when others look on and scrutinize your every show. With the advent of social media, where the average person can comment on an online Vanity Fair article or tweet their opinions, it is difficult to ignore what your fans think.

If you have no source of stability in your life and you compound the above stressors, your inner demons don’t dissipate, they magnify—sadly, in front of a much larger audience.

Loss of privacy
Everyone wants a piece of you when you’re the hunk of the hottest TV show. Yes, celebrities dine at New York’s finest eateries or vacation along the sandy beaches of Saint Tropez.
It all sounds glorious.

Now add the cameras and fans and creepy stalkers dreaming of spending just one moment with you. Not fun. Celebritydom comes with a loss of privacy, especially when sites like offer a high-dollar payout for a glimpse of someone like Kristen Stewart in a compromising position.

The public wants a peek into every star’s secret affairs. Living under a microscope, or running from a hidden camera, isn’t carefree living. It’s ducking from Escalade to resort to mansion for privacy’s sake.

Greed of the glory
Fame brings out some ugly beasts that, if not tamed, can consume a person’s life. One taste of the spotlight and greed feeds the desire for more; the next big film, chart-topping song, or five-star rating.

The adoration is gratifying until the high wears off. Then they seek the next attention-getting antics in search of praise. Think Miley Cyrus and her half-dressed-at-every-outing odd behavior. Why would you wear a leotard or barely-there top if you weren’t searching for a camera to turn your way? Celebrities who dress scantily or obnoxiously, or who arrive at the VMAs wearing a raw meat gown do so for attention. Lady Gaga, anyone?

Fame is enticing. Who doesn’t want to jet-set around the globe with a limitless budget? That would be our version of heaven on earth, would it not? To have it all: popularity, money, adoring fans worshiping our every move.
It’s like chasing after the wind. You never catch the wind. In the same line, you’ll never appease that desire for more. Just research the wisest man who ever lived. King Solomon married 700 wives and had 300 mistresses, amassed an estate larger than any king of his time, and partied like no other biblical figure. And what did he conclude?

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

The problem with this type of lifestyle is that the exhilaration eventually disappears. Stardom is the great deceiver that blinds people into thinking more money or power or prestige will solve their problems.

There is a hole inside of each of them – just as there is in each of us – that will never be filled no matter how many Grammys line their mantle. The restlessness of discontentment eats at the soul and they either succumb to their fleshly desires, or surrender to the Savior.

The ultimate flip side of fame, this blinding of sorts, may be eternal separation from the only true source of the peace that those are the limelight are so desperately chasing after (John 16:33).

Dabney Hedegard is the author of the fast-paced medical memoir that documents her four near-death experiences, When God Intervenes (Tyndale House Publishers). Visit her at or Twitter: @dabneyland

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