“Fame: The Hijacking of Reality” by Justine Bateman

Published October 2, 2018, Fame: The Hijacking of Reality, is not a memoir, but a sort of stream of consciousness manifesto of fame. Fame as a presence, an energy, an almost mystical component of American society. Everyone wants to be famous, to have followers, to get likes, to be near famous people, to have their picture taken with famous people, etc. Reality TV blew this desire up even more. People becoming famous not for their acting, writing, painting, singing, etc., but just for being filmed or doing something outrageous.

“I started this book because I was thinking about how Fame is a mercurial, ephemeral energy, this thing, this smoke, this cloud. This thing that will make everyone in a restaurant stop being themselves, sit differently in their chairs for the whole time the celebrity stays in the room there.”

I grew up watching Family Ties and definitely remember the days of the Big Three networks. Bateman talks about her fame peak, the plateau, the decline, and the “after.” It was interesting how she talked about the “temperature-taking” at events, red carpets, etc. I can see this even on the outside. It makes a person feel sick inside. You definitely get an insider’s view on how it goes down.

“The photographer, one arm bent, finger on the camera shutter button, the other arm out like that event-handler ‘invitation.’ He was taking a picture, see? Was taking a picture and now, arm bent, picture-taking paused, you are invited to move. You are being invited to move away. You are being invited to move away from where you are currently standing. YOU JUST GOT ASKED TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY SO THE PHOTOGRAPHER CAN PROPERLY CONTINUE TAKING A PICTURE OF A FAMOUS PERSON AND NOT YOU. YOU ARE IN THE WAY.”

During her Family Ties days, people would talk about her right in front of her as if she didn’t exist. When she said, “You know I can hear you,” they were shocked and offended. Like she broke through their fantasy and ruined their “Fame” experience. One father, while getting an autograph for his daughter said, “I read that you don’t wear underwear.” WTF! (That was actually taken out of context too. She was talking about panty lines on camera.)

She talks about the acceptable roles for Post-Fame females. The ones who become wives and mothers. The ones who make a new career out of routinely getting plastic surgery. The ones who are addicts and the public can view their struggles, good and bad. The ones who appear to be doing whatever they can to stay young, dressing younger, dating young men, etc.

Bateman got a Computer Science degree in 2016, which I think is awesome. I have changed careers several times. I am 45 and still thinking about a career change! She is a licensed pilot and certified scuba diver! She is wicked smart, had her own clothing line, directs, writes, and produces.

I think some people may read this and think it sounds angry. Perhaps it does, but I think it’s passion. I think writing this book was probably therapeutic. Bateman shares the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. I enjoyed it and I’ll always be a fan. (A fan from afar. I don’t approach celebrities like I used to when I lived in New York City. I can’t imagine doing it now; it would weird me out. But, it’s cool every once in awhile to interact through Twitter or something…)

Thank you Edelweiss and publisher for providing an eARC for an honest review.

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