It's not exactly surprising that our culture of 24 hour news and celebrity worship has led to a societal obsession with fame and glamour. Still, to see this obsession researched and dissected is a fascinating - and disturbing - journey.
Halpern interviewed modelling coaches, talent agents, celebrity assistants, child actors and their parents, wildly obsessed fans, and even a couple of actual celebrities for Fame Junkies, as well as psychologists and scientists. The array of voices and backgrounds provides a discerning light onto the worship of those famous as well as fame itself.
The fact that most people, especially young ones, see fame as a panacea for all their problems is truly unsettling, as is the desire for people to attach themselves to those who are in the limelight. One child actor tells Halpern that upon hearing that the child was going to New York to attend a talent convention, the child was asked by his peers for autographs. Another child rattles off a list of incredibly expensive items that family and friends have asked for "once she becomes famous". Surely some of it is in jest, but some of these items (a Corvette, a '68 Camaro) are too specific to just be outlandish ideas (interestingly enough, the ones who asked her for these car models were her parents).
Halpern even takes a look at cults, and the similarities between cult members serving cult leaders and rabid fans devoting their time and energy to their favorite celebrities. Another fascinating fact is the "para-social" relationship people can develop with tv show characters. Because people see these characters continuously and know their intimate details, viewers feel like they're actually friends with these characters. Sometimes that bleeds into the celebrity portraying the character, since magazines and tv shows that focus solely on star gossip (US Weekly, Entertainment Tonight just to name a couple) are legion.
Fame, ultimately, is a drug for many people, and Halpern wonders what it's going to be like when this younger generation of people who basically expect to become rich and famous are hit with a large dose of reality. It's not going to be pretty, but sadly, this is an addiction that looks like it's never going away.
*Small pet peeve - Halpern misspelled Ric Flair's name. Still, a great book on fame, and I'd recommend it.