Thursday, June 28, 2007

Famousr Frightens Me

It will come as no surprise to anyone paying any degree of attention that fame is unfair (else why would a certain spoiled heiress who contributes not much of anything to anybody be one of the most famous people in the world?) More distressing for cinephiles is that this truth also applies to the movies. Fameocracy is non-merit based and difficult to fathom. It's one of the reasons that you can waste so much time at Famousr. It's a dizzying time eater.

I’ve been meaning to talk about Famousr for awhile, but it I've been too disturbed by it. The first time I went I just wanted to see how it worked. It pits actor against actor and you either guess random pairings or you look up face offs of your choice. Before long a whole hour had passed. I started by trying to guess a few rounds of “who is more famous?” and it wasn’t long before I was entirely aghast

It just kept reminding me that even if you're a bonafide legend, prone to making all time lists and the like, you can still be bested by people who are still seen on TV or magazines whose careers are wobbly or comparatively minor. Few people know toss all about movies that existed before they were say, 12.

If you've never entered that strange inquiring land of "who is more famous" approach with caution. Your mind may be blown. Even if you've accepted the bitter pill of fame's randomness, it's still really hard to wrap your mind around certain things:
  • No one is more famous than Tom Cruise.
  • Modern flashes in the pan are more famous than legends (the hippocampus is a cruel master --or maybe it's our nownownow pop culture that is the cruel mistress)
  • Sandra Bullock is still inexplicably mega famous. She doesn’t have a particularly scandalous tabloid life. Her filmography is mostly crap. She’s never been nominated for an Oscar. She doesn’t make “all time movie star” lists. She isn’t that much more bankable than her rivals. And yet… And yet…

People will see me and cry


Anonymous said...

Worst of all, Paris Hilton is probably more famous than the stars you've picked out!

Anonymous said...

now THIS is scary:

Humphrey Bogart Brittany Murphy

Colin said...

It's quite easy to guess, really -- you're looking for pop icons, not cinematic ones. The results are not all that surprising if you don't conflate "who critics/film geeks know of" with "who the average person hears of".

Anonymous said...

oh hell no...nobody outshines the Foster. Nobody

DL said...

No no, the worst is that Debra Messing is more famous than Ingrid Bergman. Ew.

Anonymous said...

SERIOUSLY...Jodie Foster is one of the only remaining sure box office draws left.

Aaron C. Thomas said...

This post is horrifying (especially that Barbara Stanwyck comparison.) But your epigraph at the end made my heart leap. Oh, fame.

StinkyLulu said...

Oh my Christ.
I never.

And while Colin's right, there are some occasions that are just hard.

(Eddie Murphy-John Cusack?)

I had more existential crises in that 3 minutes... Jeepers.

adam k. said...

Sandra Bullock is NOT more famous than Jodie Foster.

First of all, how do they measure fame? Seriously. What criteria do they use to objectively measure this? I don't get it.

Also, obviously people who are big NOW will be rated over people who USED TO BE big. This is dumb (since people who used to be famous are still famous in the eyes of history), but of course they would be rating people with reference to now. No one will know about Sandra Bullock in 50 years, even if everyone knows who she is now. So whatever.

And for some reason, an ad keeps popping up over one of the people's heads when I go to the site. Annoying. And I can't do the "compare" feature.

Colin said...


Nope. Cusack hasn't been in the news for a while now; Murphy had a one-two return to fame with Dreamgirls and Norbit. (Though the less said about both films the better.)

J.D. said...

This is all annoying and pointless and so incredibly relative. If it's based on votes, how don't we know that the people who would vote for Foster hve never heard of the site/don't even have a computer? Hm? It's just pointless.

Anonymous said...

Although admittedly the "Who's That Guy" section was interesting (which occassionally includes women, but is mostly character actors, many of whom I thought were better known,like Oliver Reed and Terence Stamp, but as Colin would point out may be unknown to all but cineastes; but several I had no clue about - so kudos to the site for putting names to faces.)

FYI - apparently Nicole Kidman is more famous than Paris Hilton or Sandra Bullock (my apologies to Ms Bullock for typing her name in the same sentence with Ms Hilton, I'm just using some of Nat's examples) but not more famous than her ex. At least there's still some justice in the world.

Michael Parsons said...

Toni Collette is less famous that Don Johnson. They are obviously not living in my head.

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to find the least famous person as a bit of a flip side to Tom Cruise.

So far my least famous is Sylvia Miles. Interesting photo, too.

Perhaps more worrying is the obscure actors of now and yesterday that this site can't even find:

Samantha Morton, Kate Winslet, John Malkovich, Robin Williams, Julie Walters, Cher, Brenda Blethyn, Barbra Streisand, Ann-Margret, Ian McKellen, Glenda Jackson, Peter O'Toole, Lee Grant, Richard Burton, Geraldine Page, Jennifer Jones, Joyce Redman, Luise Rainer, Janet Gaynor, Greta Garbo, Greer Garson, Norma Shearer, Irene Dunne, Paul Muni, Ronald Colman and Ethel Barrymore.

Joe R. said...

I correctlly guessed 22 in a row before I missed goddamn Danny Glover over Don Cheadle. I guess people still like the Lethal Weapon movies.

J.D. said...

Some ones:

Bette Davis < Ben Affleck
Jennifer Garner > Peter Sellers
Jon Bon Jovi > Gary Cooper
Rodney Dangerfield < Ray Ramano
Christopher Lee < Angelina Jolie (seems obvious, still disturbing)
Alison Janney < Steve Guttenberg
Sissy Spacek < Jason Biggs
Tori Spelling > Shirley MacLaine
Molly Sims > Eric Idle
Kevin Dillon > John Hurt
Will Smith > Groucho Marx

Brian Darr said...

Charlie Chaplin is less famous than Reese Witherspoon? Oh dear.