In the span of twenty days, Ted Williams went from Markie Post-haired homeless man to pop culture sensation to jail to Dr. Phil to rehab to not-in-rehab-anymore. It’s a fairly fascinating story and we’ve been watching the whole thing. Which is easy to do when it happens over a three week period.
Also, I’m not joking about this part:
Back in the halcyon days of January 4th-5th, Ted was a mere YouTube sensation, not unlike Chocolate Rain, or the lion I’m pretty sure was trying to maul his former owners. Here’s Ted in simpler times.
In the brief time he’s been part of the cultural zeitgeist, that video, just that one, not counting the countless other rips and versions, has been viewed well over 10 million times. Everyone loves a story of redemption, and to watch the transformation and rescuing of another person.
And then they get chewed up, spit out and swivel-squished with the toes of our shoes.
Fame is a terrifying and mind-boggling creature. Not everyone who gets it can handle it. To be known by everyone, to be swarmed by reporters, to be stared at constantly, to hear nothing but “yes” and to receive anything you want without trying, to be adored and feared, fame is a wholly unnatural thing. And as it becomes simpler and simpler to attain, we’re seeing more people fall apart under its crushing blow.
Everyone wants to be rich and famous. Not everyone should be.
The entertainment world is full of addicts and others who suffer from one form of mental disease or defect or another. For some, they were thrust into the spotlight too young, and an undeveloped mind either began to form skewed, or they simply hadn’t yet begun to experience the signs of a condition to come. For others, the fame was the impetus, the trigger.
Hollywood: everyone was either born sick, or they got sick over time.
As windfall fame has become prevalent, mostly due to the internet and inexpensive reality television, we are seeing more people snap. We are able to watch them hit the top, then we are able to watch them completely disintegrate.
Everyone acts like wealth and fame is some incredible gift for which the recipients should feel eternally grateful, so much so they live a pure, chaste life to protect it, at least until it’s in our interest that they do not. But it isn’t. Fame is ugly. Particularly for those who aren’t stable as it is. Fame is a big Jenga game being built beneath your feet. The higher it goes, the more wobbly it gets, and the bigger the collapse will be.
Ted Williams is a homeless drug addict who abandoned his wife and family because he fell apart. After years, his dreams came true. All of them. And it was too much.
For some of us, everything we’ve ever wanted coming to pass are the kind of problems we want to have. For everyone else, I think we know Willy Wonka may have been lying. The boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted may not have lived happily ever after. Maybe he did, or maybe the pressure and the dwindling self-worth mixed with the inflating ego exploded inside him until he combusted.