“In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”
— Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene iv
Same goes for fame, such as it is. More often than being born famous, achieving fame or having it thrust upon you, fact is that in today’s world a lot of people seek fame. Hell, they crave it. When you can get a paycheck and a swanky (albeit temporary) place to live so long as you agree to put your life on display for entertainment, it’s going to create a culture of famewhores – people who will do anything, no matter how base, to have their names known.
Thordora is not one of them. Nor am I. Yet we belong to a sort of club: everyday women whose names are known beyond their circle of intimate friends because of something that happened on the Internet. In Thordora’s case, it was a Twitter message (I think the proper term is “tweet” but I’m not as up to date on the hep lingo the kids use these days). In my case, it was a video of my kids playing in my kitchen.
In both cases, when the stories were analyzed in blogs and on the news, we were judged. I was judged with a lot less criticism than Thordora got. People pretty much take my side or play devil’s advocate, something I’m extremely grateful for. Going through what I go through dealing with this lawsuit and its fallout is taxing on the brain and body; having support from strangers is remarkably strengthening. In Thordora’s case, the support has come less completely but I have seen strangers take her side, defend her and stand up to those who would tear her down for her innocent remark.
If her message had been dialogue in a book or a screenplay, the action would have the character speaking it flop down on a sofa and cover her eyes with her arm, exhausted and weakly venting to anyone in earshot. Some people, including those who turned her tweet into High Drama, would have us imagine her saying it with a pillow clutched in her fists, her face twisted and her eyes alight with a manic fire. And to imagine those words coming from that character, well, Stephen King would rip the paper out of the Olivetti typewriter, crumple it and call it “unbelievable.” Which it is.
Now people are trying to twist the story around, to have us believe that Thordora wrote her message with the intent of getting famous. I’ve often read similar comments about myself: the insinuation that I put a video of my children on YouTube hoping to get famous from it. Neither Thor nor I are fame-seekers. If I’m going to be famous for something, I’d rather it not be something like a video of my children. And I’m certain that, even if she sought fame in any way, Thor would prefer it to be something positive, not this manufactured kerfluffle.
Still, common sense doesn’t usually reign on the Internet (or IRL for that matter) and people will say what they like. They’ll blame Thordora’s bipolar disorder for their irrational judgments. They’ll say I relish going on TV (so not true; I hate seeing myself on TV).
Thordora refuses her interview requests, hoping that the whole thing will go away and that she can go back to her writing (her marvelously eloquent, heartfelt/gutwrenching writing) and her life. I take just about every interview I’m offered. Why, if I’m not among the famewhores? I’m comfortable doing them and I want people to know that this happened to me and it can happen to them. I want people to know that you don’t just have to sit back and take what a bully dishes out to you, whether it’s sending cops into the bedroom of your peacefully sleeping child or removing your video from the Internet simply because they feel like it. It’s for people like Thordora, who really just want to be left in peace but also want to enjoy their right to free speech and free expression.
And if “fame” is one of the side effects of that, it’s okay. I don’t consider myself (or my son) to be “famous” and I don’t want to be famous (quotes or not). In both of our cases, we had fame thrust upon us, even though our responses are slightly different.
In my opinion, she already had the greatness.
You can hunt Eden down and gift her with snakes at So Anyway.