Celebritology 101: When Egos Attack
A certain amount of ego is required to be successful in the entertainment world -- a certain amount of self-aggrandizement is not only expected, but necessary to get out your brand: you. But somewhere between the in-your-grill braggadocio of professional wrestlers and self-deprecating shtick of Woody Allen and Albert Brooks, one should strive to strike a happy balance between egomaniac and wallpaper.
If only this lesson had been available last week, before Kanye West stormed the stage when his "Touch the Sky" failed to win best video at the European MTV Awards. West grabbed the mike and proceeded to hold forth about why he should've won -- his video cost $1 million and starred Pamela Anderson.
But wait: On Monday, "sources" told the New York Post that West's hissy fit was a "prank" designed to spoof his cocky image.
Do you think this man is joking?
I'm not buying it. After all, this is the man who appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in a Jesus-emulating crown of thorns and said in an Entertainment Weekly article last year: "I feel like I should win Album of the Year because, um, it was."
It seems West's been here before:
On the 2005 Grammy nominations: "If I don't win Album of the Year, I'm gonna really have a problem with that." [Source]
In 2004 after failing to win Breakthrough Artist at the American Music Awards: "I was the best new artist this year," and "I got 10 Grammy nominations, and won three -- even if I should have won all 10." [Source]
And so, West makes the perfect illustrative example for today's Celebritology 101 lesson: Over-inflated egos.
A few simple rules for striking the right balance:
1. Use your handler/publicist/manager/agent preemptively. Seek his advice and help crafting your public image. Don't shortchange your investment by only allowing him to clean up after your public gaffes.
2. Stick to one form of entertaining. What do Don Johnson, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Juliette Lewis have in common? They all thought they could make the leap from one form of entertainment to another. This almost always results in very public humiliation and a dimming of one's star. (Accident waiting to happen: Diddy recently expressed a desire to take on the role of James Bond.) There is always the exception that proves the rule. For instance musician Mos Def, who has made critically acclaimed steps into the acting world.
3. Keep it simple. Especially for actors, an unscripted conversation can result in disaster. Reflect back on Oscar acceptance speeches -- from the corny ("You like me, you really really like me." -- Sally Field) to the idiotic ("I am the king of the world!" -- James Cameron). The risk of a mouth malfunction is intensified exponentially under the influence of alcohol and other mind-altering substances (See Gibson, Mel.)
4. Recognize the problem. If you believe your own hype, your ego is dangerously out of control. Please seek out reality -- i.e. box office numbers, the amount of plastic surgery required to keep you in working condition, the doctoring needed to make your singing listenable -- for a quick dose of humility.
5. Remember, the camera is always on: (Keep your eyes on Faith Hill at last night's Country Music Awards.)
Update: Hill later issued a statement denying any ill feeling toward her fellow musicians.
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