The Culture of Childhood Celebrity
There has never been a single moment in Lisa Marie Presley’s life that wasn’t weird.
As Elvis Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie became more famous than you or I will ever be simply by existing; the moment she entered the world, she did so to a mountain of fanfare and expectations the likes of which the normal person can simply never understand.
I expect that’s made for a profoundly confusing existence.
I was never a particularly spoiled child; being relatively poor, which is a good and a bad thing, has that effect. But I had other advantages, like two parents and a sibling to beat up at my convenience. Although I complained (loudly and incessantly, to whomever happened to be in earshot), I really didn’t have a ton to gripe about.
Even though her childhood was (ostensibly) better than mine, I have a suspicion that Lisa Marie Presley had a lot more to complain about.
Her parents separated when she was four. She spent the next five years being shuttled from Redneck Mecca (Graceland) to Beverly Hills which, on the surface, doesn’t sound bad. Her super-famous father died when she was nine. That’s got to be hard regardless of who you are. Now add in the fact that your father is looked on as a demigod in some circles and it has to become really confusing.
(I can’t believe there is a faction of people in this world that believe Elvis is alive and walking among us today somewhere. I can only assume these people also see UFO’s piloted by Jimmy Hoffa on a regular basis.)
People don’t seem to appreciate that THIS WAS HER ENTIRE LIFE, ALL THE TIME.
Somehow, Lisa Marie seemed to turn out okay. Despite being Elvis’ daughter, she had few public lapses in judgment – sure, she married Michael Jackson and Nicholas Cage (the latter for barely 100 days), but these things happen when you’re famous for being famous. Given the events of her youth, it wouldn’t have surprised me if she followed the Grateful Dead around and freebased heroin.
Being the children of celebrities has to really suck.
I’m sure there are privileges, like getting to meet other famous people and skipping line at Disney World and stuff. The nature of celebrity is that if you get famous, you seem to get lots of free shit (tickets, cars, etc.) due to that fame. That seems backwards to me but, like I mentioned, I was poor. Nobody ever explained the rules rich people got to live by.
But to get all the perks, you live in a fish bowl you didn’t even have the pleasure of creating. Your famous parent is always getting hounded by autograph seekers and paparazzi. Going someplace in public is always a risk since you, as a child, could always be kidnapped for ransom. And if you screw up in your teenage rebellious years, you’ll be sullying the family name.
All so you can grow up with outsized expectations from John Q. Public that you will most likely fail to deliver on.
We’ve all met a kid (probably when you played sports as a child) that was trumpeted by his stage parent as the best, the brightest and the smartest no matter the scenario. Almost invariably, those kids went on to lead lives that felt like letdowns in large part because they didn’t become the world’s first crime fighting super hero/All-Pro quarterback/President.
Imagine being the child of the super famous. Unless you somehow become more famous and important than your famous parent, you’ll be looked on as a failure, a mere footnote to a Wikipedia page. Although if you’re Snooki’s unborn spawn of Satan, that’s probably the best you can hope for. They should just name that kid ‘Nochance N. Hell’.
Possibly worse is your regular run-of-the-mill child stars. It just never seems to work out well for them. But at the very least, the Macaulay Culkin’s of the world get their 15 minutes of fame without gravy training on a parents name.
When I was a kid, I desperately wished one of my parents were famous. How awesome those kids’ lives must have been; to have everything they wanted whenever they wanted it sounded like a fantasy. Children are always so disappointed to find out their parents aren’t the modern-day equivalent to Howard Hughes.
Thank God I didn’t get my way. If you think I’m insufferable now, imagine what a lifetime of privilege might have done to me.