- Posted by Michelle O'Gara
- On May 22, 2017
Fame can be dangerous and too often it is fatal.
It was for Chris Cornell.
When you are a celebrity, you are no longer a person, you become a commodity. And all your humanness—from your beautiful, raw talent to your beastly addictions—gets shielded by three layers of people all protecting their own self-interests.
First, there are the bankrollers—the managers, producers, writers, directors. They own you and will do whatever it takes to keep you happy. They will get you whatever you need … Thirsty? Here’s a well. Lonely? Here’s a prostitute. Tired? Here’s a prescription. Bankrollers are capitalization in the name of fame, baby.
The “star-f*ckers” just want any itty-bitty piece of you they can get. They don’t genuinely care about your well-being. Rather, they see dabbling in your addictions and struggles as an opportunity to eventually end up in your unauthorized tell-all bio-documentary on Netflix. They will ride the coattails of your fame, swim in your pool, drink all your booze, sell your story to Page Six, and “yes” you to death (literally).
Then there are the elbow-rubbing industry folk who seem to conveniently turn a blind eye to anything other than your stardom because if they actually said something to intervene, they’d risk losing their tie to their famous “friend.” For them, it’s all about who you know. They care more about kowtowing you than anything you are actually dealing with. The elbow-rubbers are often the co-stars from your TV show from the 80’s who are still milking your relationship to get lead roles in a Regional Theatre production of “Death of a Salesman.” Elbow-rubbers can also be the backup dancer or head roadie from the Asia-Pacific leg of your world tour. They have just enough credibility to turn gossip into facts, so your post-mortem biopic will become an “E True Hollywood Story.”
And then there are the people who knew you from before your fame—friends and family members with the ability to ground you—who sadly get drowned out by the volume others who pretend to have your best interest at heart. The managers, star f*ckers, and industry folks are the same people who after a celebrity dies will say, “Oh, he was such a great talent, “He was like a brother to me …” or like these elbow-rubber reactions. And then a few weeks later, they are off to follow the next shiny thing.
For years I was on the other side of the fame fence – I saw firsthand the nutters that would get into cat fights over who was going home with ‘this’ famous guy or who could get a role from ‘that’ famous writer. One time I saw a woman try to hump a celebrity as he was hailing a cab. Too many times star-hungry women would climb over my chair to sit between me and a famous friend of mine who is no longer alive – maybe you heard of him – Philip Seymour Hoffman? One year I was watching the Oscars with him, and the next year I tuned in just in time to see him accept his. In that one year span, the social padding around him got real thick, and I felt pushed far away. At the time I believed them to be honest, but now I see the truth. To this day, anytime someone says what a great friend and brother Phil was, I think, “Oh yeah, well where the f*ck were you when he relapsed? WTF a-hole, what did you do to help?”
Perhaps they get drowned out too? I wonder if they consciously or unconsciously turned a blind eye to his addiction because they were too afraid to lose their spot in the fame-game pecking order and all the glory it gave them. Or perhaps they enabled Phil just enough to keep him happy, and so they could keep their job working with a famous actor, but not feel guilty? Don’t for a second think that Chris Cornell’s story is any different. The ones that were “closest” to him suffocated him just as much as he suffocated himself. And honestly, I don’t blame him for offing himself. Looking out from the inside of Chris Cornell’s world must have felt … empty and painful. Even with the love of his family, compounded with addiction, depression, anxiety and all the things that make us human … he got drowned out. Just like Phil. But Chris Cornell’s “friends” will still continue to be “shocked” by his “loss.” Who’s loss is it really? Yours or his?
Chris Cornell’s story isn’t any different. The ones that were “closest” to him suffocated him just as much as he suffocated himself. And honestly, I don’t blame him for offing himself. Looking out from the inside of Chris Cornell’s world must have felt … empty … and painful. Even with the love of his family, compounded with addiction, depression, anxiety and all the things that make us human, he got drowned out by his fame. Just like Phil. But Chris Cornell’s “friends” will still continue to be “shocked” by his “loss.” Who’s loss is it really? Yours or his?
My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, children, and family. Everyone else can go find something shiny and new to chase.