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Washington Voices

Connection, duty come with stardom

Sat., April 7, 2012

Stars mystify me.

Oh, not the wondrous bright bling twinkling in the night sky but the ones of entertainment variety. The stars that cause us to laugh at their comedy routines, marvel at their moves, get lost in their music, and connect with the characters they’ve created.

At one time in the not too distant past, entertainers were talented individuals who could bring characters alive or rock the house. Their art form brought solace during the fragile times of youth, speaking a kindred voice of angst that also encouraged beginning anew. They tapped into our world of pain, joy, fear, and obscurity; persuading us to dance, sing, laugh, cry, or strive to better the world – and we did.

Today’s reality shows have produced a new realm of quasi-entertainers. No Juilliard, New York University or years of hard knocks for these folks – their fame is instantaneous, with a heady dose of back-stabbing, fighting and cheating.

Kind of amazing, when you think about it.

To better understand my own star-studded infatuation, however, I thought back … way back … to a wintry Oregon evening when I stood in my living room listening to incomprehensible words rambling from a newscaster’s mouth.

John Lennon, the sarcastically witty Beatle who tumbled in and out of controversy; John Lennon, the-long haired, round-eyeglass-wearing balladeer of peace; John Lennon was dead. Vibrant memories of my youth swirled in an ironic twist of fate. The world felt helter-skelter. I was shaken to the core. But why?

The answer is connection.

Although familial connection is part and parcel of who I am, my connective upbringing can also be attributed to those entertainers, be they small-town musician and theater types or those of the bright light assortment, who touched my life through their talent. Too many times I found courage buried beneath fear and learned lessons far beyond the textbook.

Every performer, from bit player to superstar, knows connection is the golden key in the fame game, but the hidden gem that keeps their names in print, interviews requested and fans curious is the magic of shock and awe.

Entertainers, by their nature and profession, are a shock-and-awe bunch – that shock provides mounds of awe for talk shows and gossip magazines alike.

One minute our favorite star has met their soul mate, the next it’s divorce city. One year they’re the epitome of squeaky clean, the next they’ve fallen into the grips of drugs and alcohol. We read of their vacation destinations, fashion faux pas, legal entanglements, baby bumps and marriage frumps while rejoicing in their triumphs and feeling despair in their failures. But why?


It’s a fascinating connective career, this star business, but sadly the bright lights of this profession have tarnished a bit.

Perhaps I’m entering the old-biddy era or maybe my perception has altered a tad, but at times the entertainment industry hits new lows of raunchiness in its quest to entertain. I’m not sure why. This is an industry that can spark imaginations tenfold. Therefore I submit a heartfelt plea.

Be mindful of the lessons taught through your profession. Look toward bettering the world when you choose the music you create, the comedy you make, the shows and movies you direct and produce, the roles you accept. Know that changes in heart and mind do occur because of your talent. Be grateful for this exceptional opportunity that, at any moment, can slip from your grasp.

To those who are in it solely for the money, please allow the door to hit you on the way out.

To those hard-working and dedicated entertainers, a life on display can be draining but this is your profession; this is your story. Tell it with precision; share it with intensity and purpose.

And, above all, be humble with its rewards.

Voices correspondent Sandra Babcock can be reached by email at

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