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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

entry arrow7:41 PM | Gladys Glover and the Celebrity of Being Kim Kardashian

To understand Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, and the whole puzzling fact of becoming celebrities for having accomplished particularly nothing, one has to go back to the 1954 Judy Holliday comedy titled It Should Happen to You, directed with wit and panache by George Cukor. It is perhaps the first film to explore seriously the phenomenon of Becoming Famous for Being Famous.

In this forgotten Hollywood gem -- it is notable for being the first film to star Jack Lemmon -- a down-and-out former girdle model played by Ms. Holliday commiserates about not having made a name for herself in New York, despite having lived in the city for two years. She laments that all she has to show for it is $1,000 that she managed to save up. Lemmon's character, an intrepid documentary filmmaker who slowly falls for her, tells her: "Well, when there's a way, there's a will" -- and soon she gets inspired to rent out a billboard in Columbus Circle, bearing just her name, Gladys Glover.

She rents the sign for three months, and circumstances in the film involving Peter Lawford's character and the soap company he runs soon multiplies that one billboard sign to six, spread all over Manhattan. And soon people starts asking, "Who is Gladys Glover?" A TV presenter editorialises that she is probably just the second cousin of Kilroy (hahaha, I like that line) -- which our Ms. Glover promptly corrects of course, and soon she is making guest appearances on television and becomes a full-fledged model. And soon she really becomes famous for just being famous.

There is one scene in the movie shared by Gladys and Lemmon's Jack Sheppard that grapples the common misgivings about the phenomenon. They are having dinner, and Jack tries to show her how foolhardy she has been with her obsession for getting her name out there...

Jack: What's the point of it? Where's it getting you? No place.

Gladys: No place? I started out with no signs, so then I got one sign... so then I get six. So where do you get "no place"?

Jack: I don't know what it is, honey, but I don't seem to get through to you. Let me put it this way. What most people, real people, want is privacy. That's about the best thing anybody can have.

Gladys: Not me.

Jack: What is this craze to get well-known?

Gladys: Why craze?

Jack: Do you think everybody is so anxious to be above the crowd?

Gladys: Yes.

Jack: But what's the point of it? (Beat.) In the first place, everybody can't be above the crowd, can they?

Gladys: No. But everybody can try if they want to.

Jack: But why isn't it more important to learn how to be a part of the crowd?

Gladys: Not me.

Jack: It isn't just making a name. Don't you understand that? It's making a name that stands for something. Different names stand for different things.

Gladys: So who said not?

Jack: You want my opinion?

Gladys: No...

Jack: My opinion is this. It's better if your name stands for something on one block than if it stands for nothing all over the entire world.

Gladys: I don't follow your point.

Jack: I sure wish you could...

And for some reason -- and I can't believe I am doing this -- I agree with Gladys, and to a degree, Kim Kardashian and her ilk. Why would you want to stop anybody from achieving their dream of being famous and be a success at it, and who are we to judge the means with which they pursue it as being less valid? What does "having accomplished nothing" really mean? And really, if there is a way, shouldn't there be a will? During one of Glady's television appearances, a viewer at a bar tells another one: "All she's got is nerve, far as I can see..." The other one says: "Maybe that's all you need nowadays. Four programs in one week. She's certainly making a name for herself."

And that's that.

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich