Celebrity Prison

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When I’m writing, I often profile my characters. That begins with my ability to empathize; I feel this emotion is sorely needed for writers to be able to better characterize and connect with readers. Sometimes, like today, I profile a character type based on my experience with it. I used to shoot local events for a community newspaper based on a creative concept I designed; the reason why I stopped doing that was because I erred on the side of respect. So, sometimes I didn’t get the shot of celebrity what’s-his/her-face because I asked and the answer was “No, this is my personal time.” You mean you missed so-and-so? Yeah, yeah I did. I’ve worked with celebrities in other capacities as well and even though that is a “job” they’re also human beings. There were other politics associated with the tab, too, since the feature’s popularity grew and my more casual/candid style didn’t suffice anymore. It was fun. I’m glad I had the experience. And I’ve moved on.

Anyway, back to storytelling. I have an idea in my head for a dark story about a celebrity musician trapped (literally) by his fame. (Remember: I’m the writer who lurks in the dark. Hee.) This has been explored in depth before — the film The Island has an interesting, if horrific take on that. But, sometimes I need to write for the sake of writing, so I can get that concept out of my system and move onto something else. I often use the second person to explore empathy, to address the fictitious character as if they’re sitting right in front of me, to flesh out how I feel about him (or her).

With that in mind, here’s my character profile:

    Dear Rock Star:

    We’ve never met. I suppose we never will, even if we did. Oh, I know I’d be standing in front of you, Mr. Rock Star, shaking your hand, telling you how much I enjoy your music, but that’s not you. Not really. That’s the “you” perfected by publicists and marketers, make-up artists and advisors, and the image demanded by millions of fans. I may want to feel the grip of your hand because you touched me with your music — but that’s just the bioware housing whatever’s trapped inside.

    If you took your shirt off, would I see the bite marks? The pieces of skin ripped from your body, inch by inch, stealing your humanity?

    What happened? You used to be the boy with a dream. Now, you’ve become the dream and the boy has been beaten into submission. You’ve been wiped out. Gone. Only an echo remains.

    You’re not a man, either. Not really. Bossed around, sucked up to, seeking endless amounts of approval — you’re lost and this realm is your personal hell.

    I’d say “Lost, my friend.” but you won’t listen to a stranger or wait for synchronicity. Not anymore. The vultures you confide in would kill you in your sleep to profit off your death. They’re not going to go through with murder, but they’re thinking it. They’re feeling you’ve outlived your splendor. You’ve hit your peak. There is nothing, save for that one song everybody knows, that you could do to top that.

    Where are you, man? Do you need a map to find your way home? What is home, but a collection of all the shit you’ve never wanted and all the shit you think you’re supposed to have. You entertain. You have people you call “friends,” but really they’re just folks who want a taste of your fame. You’re the cool guy, so you be cool, even when you don’t wanna be. Then, your “friends” suck off that cool so they can be cool, too.

    But you’re not cool. Not anymore. You’ve been sick. Diseased, deep down inside. For a long time. Oh, you did try and fix it. You went through rehab. Twice. You thought marrying Mrs. Rock Star might help, but your relationship is just a band-aid. You know that. She knows that. And one day, you’re both going to have a hard time facing that. Already, there’s cracks in your relationship but you don’t want to admit what’s happening, so you’ll ignore your growing issues and hope the marriage’ll sort itself out — but you have no one to turn to, no place to go for advice.

    Who’d understand, anyway? Imagine the hell you’d go through if you did divorce that plastic doll. You’re living the dream, right? Only that’s the price you paid. Everybody’s lying to you because you’re the Rock Star. You have something to give them. They made you. You owe them your legacy. Or do you?

    The dream is fading. The Rock Star is disappearing along with your fame. You’ll live on in your song. But you died along time ago.

    So when I come for your autograph, if I have the time, it’s to commemorate your death, man. It’s to stand witness to the boy with a dream, who one day grew up to write this amazing song everybody knows.

    Rest in peace.

    Mood: Wintermudgeon
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Beh
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: House cleaning. Grr.
    In My Ears: Nothing
    Game Last Played: Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed
    Movie Last Viewed: A Good Day To Die Hard
    Latest Artistic Project: Contest design (In progress)
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

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