Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Very Young Dancer, A Very Young Paparazzo, and some thoughts on fame

Recently, a friend directed me to an article about the adulthood of the real-life star of Jill Krementz's iconic 1976 ballet book, A Very Young DancerHere is the link to the poignant and rather sobering tale.

I was not yet in double digits when this book was published, but I had already been dancing for years. I thought the photographs were beautiful and I loved the book but, honestly, I was not deceived by the rather glamorous picture it painted.  I already had a sense of the bittersweet life that is ballet (or gymnastics or elite soccer or any activitiy a child decides to pursue at an intense, professional level).  Still, something I had never considered was the impact of the fame which befell (word choice intentional) the book's star, Stephanie.  Oddly, in a fit of procrastionation this week, I also saw parts of Adrian Grenier's film Teenage Paparazzo, another exploration of a child experiencing fame in the wake of another famous person's creation.  Neither young ballerina Stephanie nor teen celebrity photographer Austin could have truly understood the creative power and reach of the people who made a book and a film about them.

Should these "subjects" be considered victims of the fame machine? Certainly, the world viewed them with great envy (at least for awhile).  Was it all worth it for Stephanie or Austin?  For Grenier or Krementz?  What is the artist's responsibility to his muse?  This is a question I wanted to explore in my novel, AUDITION, which at this very moment I am happy is a work of my own imagination and NOT a documentary.

It would be hard to deny that writing books is, at one level, a grasp at immortality and as such, a grasp at some type of fame.  I won't deny that, while I'm getting lots of nice feedback on Audition, had it leapt out of the gate as a prize-winning novel of the year, I would not have turned away whatever celebrity came with that. And, yeah, I do have occasional nightmares about being remaindered (book lingo for no-more-print-runs!).

So, in the context of my novel, the question I see is: Is Remington a villain or just another desperate artist fearing obscurity? What were Stephanie and Austin? Grenier and Krementz?  What am I?

1 comment:

Dawn Simon said...

Such a great post, Stasia! Very thought provoking. Also, I love the photo! :)