Remember Dr. Christiaan Barnard? Old Chris became a mega-star in 1967 when he performed the world’s first heart transplant. (With his thick South African accent, he pronounced it “hod tronsblond.”) The lucky-ish recipient, a 54-year-old grocer named Louis Washkansky, lived for 18 days, during which time the handsome Dr. B. sliced and cauterized his way onto the cover of Time magazine and into our hearts. He became as celebrated as Bob Dylan. Hard to imagine, right?
We are living in an everyone-is-special-and-there-are-no-losers society. As a result, we are fearful of accomplished people because they can do stuff that we cannot do, and giving them the spotlight would un-level the playing field. We are, as a result, much more comfortable with the famous-for-nothing paradigm, because then, we, the great unexceptional masses, still have shot at celebrity.