I went through a lot of fan mail at work today. As a lover of memoirs and someone who will read every page in US Weekly, I was excited for this new opportunity to pry into the lives of others. I was really enjoying myself, but the more that I read, the less fun I had. I feel bad for a lot of these people. They write that it is their life dream to get a signed picture from these actors; “You are my passion,” more than one wrote. They send already-stamped envelopes, postcards, articles, pictures of the actors, pictures of themselves, and even money. They share personal stories of their mother’s upcoming 80th Birthday, their deceased siblings, and their lives confined to a wheel chair. The same person often sends multiple letters, and it’s uncomfortable to see their words becoming more desperate, their handwriting growing more erratic. Many of these letters are sent priority mail, and the majority are from other countries. Magazines and websites, such as PerezHilton.com which gets over 14 million hits a day, confirms what we already know: Yes, we are obsessed with the lives of celebrities, but I wonder if other cultures seem to idolize celebrities more because they are, literally and figuratively, further away from them. Not living in Los Angeles, or even America, has Hollywood become a mythical place of perfections and ideals that they actively worship?
Enclosed are their dreams, and not knowing any of them personally, I regret the judgment that I cannot help but to pass on them. As the reader, do I have an obligation to them? What sort of obligation, if any, do the celebrities that they are addressed to have? I don’t know whether or not we plan on responding to any of these people, but if we don’t, I hope that they don’t take it personally. I hope that they realize that there is more to life than a signed photograph of someone they’ve never met and that their time would be better spent focused on their own lives and their own pursuit towards making it a meaningful one.