Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Remember me

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
--Dave Merenda; Seamus Egan; Sarah Ann Mclachlan

We watched The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke the other night. It is the story of a big time wrestler (Rourke) whose career peaks in 1985. By 2009 he is living in a trailer working weekend wrestling shows at small time venues and supplementing his meager income by working at the loading dock at a local grocery store.

I think it was a great movie because it examines how fleeting fame is, especially if you build it around even more fleeting youth. And it seemed a bit autobiographical for Rourke whose own acting career careened off the superstar path after 9 1/2 weeks and a brief career as a professional boxer. Marisa Tomei also stars in the movie as a stripper just on the downward spiral from being able to work the customers. There is an affinity between Rourke's character grasping at his lost fame as a wrestler and Tomei's character deal with the realities of an aging stripper's money making potential.

The movie made me think about fame in general. Most people long to somehow, some way be remembered. Some break records and are remembered until someone else breaks their records. Others exploit their talents and are remembered for their voice or their dancing or their acting...until their talent reaches its peak and someone more talented comes along. Still others rocket to fame by being evil and shocking people with their unthinkable crimes.

But in the end, very few are remembered. And I have to wonder, is it better never to be recognized than to taste fame and then slip into obscurity? Because after all, if you are never recognized, than you can't be forgotten.

The world is filled with crumbling pyramids and fallen statues that were intended as tributes to forgotten famous people seeking to be remembered. Walk through a cemetery and you see attempts to keep loved one's memories alive in stone. But the dead can only be remembered as long as there is someone living who indeed can remember them.

It is so easy to be forgotten. In our digitally overstimulated world everyone is ADD. YouTube sensations blip through the universe of the Internet competing with PlayStation's and Wii. We can no longer digest any information that requires us to scroll down a screen. Twitter is even reducing that to 180 or fewer characters.

Is it any wonder that vampire programs are sweeping through popular psyches now. Vampires offer immortality. They are permanent rock stars who never age. And unlike the castrated vampire characters of the past who could only penetrate by biting, this generations fantasy vampire sucks blood and has sex (just watch a few episodes of HBO's True Blood if you don't believe me). I bet you Bram Stoker's Dracula, Dark Shadow's Barnabas Collins and Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat are renting the first episode of True Blood on DVD through Netflix and saying to themselves "Well, this sucks...all this time we could have been having sex like kings and instead we pranced around like queens."

But I digress.

I used to think that if I wrote a novel and got it published that I would be remembered. My name would always be on the spine of that book sitting on a shelf in a library. But now, even books are down loadable and quickly becoming obsolete. So I am resigned to the fact that my life will likely always be flying under the radar. I prefer to be cremated so there will never be a headstone with my name on it.

But I suppose I should take solace in the fact that since I was never remembered, I won't be forgotten. That would make me immortal, right?