Ep 18: Popularity: The Sleazy Little Cousin of Prestige
Here today. Gone tomorrow. Loved yesterday. Hated today. Build you up. Break you down. Fame is a mother. And Popularity's the son of a...well you get the point. It might be the only thing that gives Money a run for its...money. Her love knows limits, yet is relatively unprejudiced. Full of so many likes and favs, yet can be so heartless. Popularity is a fiend on the hunt for the next fix; a lurking coyote on the prowl for the next meal. But make no mistake, she's seductive. She's relentless. And she's stunningly attractive.
Let me rewind a bit. So I'm watching a clip from the new Michael Keaton-fronted film, "Birdman", where he and the character Edward Norton plays are conversing while walking down the street. Norton's character spews (something along the lines of), "Popularity is like the slutty little cousin of Prestige." (As you can see, I've toned down this line in the title.) When I heard that, I thought it was a great line of dialogue (maybe I have low standards) and that it was a sentiment I also agreed with. "Maybe it's a line worth providing some commentary on," I pondered as I lay in bed last night. Now with that context, let's get back into it.
The subject of Popularity is not all cynicism for me. It has its place and it still a fascinating conceit to think about. I imagine it much like the girl you want to spend a Friday night with (after buying her drinks and meeting her an hour prior) while Prestige is more like the lady you want to spend Saturday morning with (after bringing her breakfast in bed, while you slept on the couch). Sure, the Friday Night Delight is sexier, wilder and fantastical, but the Saturday Morning Glory is more beautiful, purer and is most importantly a more accurately portrayal of what she would be like as a life-long partner.
Popularity is the cousin of Prestige because they are in deed connected, though perhaps not mutually exclusive. If I've cared about either over the majority of my life, it's certainly been Prestige more than Popularity. All that I do is about leaving behind a legacy, building influence, becoming an ideal - goals that require a long-term commitment. I want the love that'll last forever more than I want the night I'll never forget. Since Fame is unbiased, that would mean it doesn't really have standards, which means there's not much integrity. Anyone can get a piece of the pie, in other words - Popularity sleeps around.
Fame is useful when it's a precursor to Prestige, and in that context, I don't mind it one bit, in fact, I welcome it. We humans adore being entertained, what can we say? Though at times, I'm not sure if Popularity is merely near-flawless manufacturing and marketing of talent to be milked for all its worth. Or is it just a matter of momentarily caring about one thing more than anything else? Either way, the problem is by nature, Popularity is only temporary, it rarely transcends. Just because you're rich, it doesn't mean you're wealthy.
For Prestige to live on, Popularity's got to choose its next object - and on the other end of it, you either come out as the victor or the victim. The caterpillar's got to turn into a butterfly. Fame puts people and products on our radar. It gives them the spotlight to see all things for what they are - good and bad. It's exposure and the idea of being exposed simultaneously. It's a highlighter. Prestige is a Sharpie. Fame gives birth to Prestige; the League of the Elite. That's why it's necessary and when it happens in that order, it's a nirvana.
There are many analogies that can be made between the two. They both have been around for a while and are here to stay. Should Popularity ever choose me as it's next target, I've got to ensure that it grants me a beautiful death (that gives life to Prestige) and not an ugly life that lasts far longer than it should. The secret to attaining this is in the transitional phase. If Ms. Friday Night Delight takes me back to her place for some nice chatter, cocktails and *dancing*, the key is to flirt for sure, but to not sleep with her that first night. It's to leave her wanting more, spun in my web, dazed in intrigue. I'll kiss her on the forehead as I leave her doorway, vanishing into the night. Oh, but I'll be back...as a surprise, the next morning with breakfast, an afternoon planned for us to spend together, and this line...
"Last night, you introduced me to Popularity, and that was cool. But I'm much more interested in getting to know Prestige, what does it take to meet her?"