Monday, January 15, 2007

The Public and The Private: The doozy

The Public and The Private: The doozy
this is what i am talking about! (see previous post, "middle school girls gone wild")
43.4% of teenage girls want to be celebrity assistants when they grow up?
they don't even want to be celebrities themselves. they want to assist one.

their identity is wrapped up in the celebrity du jour who most likely gained notoriety due to whom she is dating, her hair cut/color, her weight, handbag and/or last name. we (not even sure who "we" is but...) effectively taught an entire generation to value these things above all else. we've created a herd whose shepherd is paris hilton/mischa barton/britney spears, you pick.

i am trying to envision the resume required for such a job.
education: communications, BS? not sure a college education is required.
experience: read over 2000 issues of US weekly, own the entire DVD box sets of the O.C., One Tree Hill and the Simple Life, abercrombie sales associate.
skills: 25 tmpm aka text messages per minute???

the princeton review has a best entry-level jobs handbook with a chapter on becoming a "personal assistant to someone famous" that explains the position.

Celebrities write books, direct movies, star on television shows, and run giant corporations, so they are left with very little time to make dinner reservations, shop for birthday gifts, pick up the dry cleaning, and answer the telephone. That's where a personal assistant comes in. It's a great job for people who want a glimpse at how the truly fabulous live. It's also a great way to break into glamour professions because of the many of the contacts you make—not the dry cleaner, necessarily, but many of the others—will be invaluable.
glimpsing at how the "truly fabulous live"? i'm sorry but when has glimpsing ever gotten anyone anything they really wanted ESPECIALLY a fabulous life (fabulous being a VERY relative term). their seems to be this weird delusion/belief that proximity is a means to an end. that you don't really ever have to earn (via education, work experience etc.) anything, you can just make reservations for it and poof you've got the beamer, the couture gown and eat your cheerios in cristal.

the following paragraph on "perks" confirms this delusion. proximity trumps even salary.

Most assistants are drawn to the job by the glamour of celebrity, not by the promise of cash. As one explains, "I was too naive at that point to know [that I should negotiate my starting salary]. It could've been negotiable, but it was so exciting to be offered the job that I didn't ask." Asked to name the fringe benefits of their job, assistants list "free travel and life experience" and "the opportunity to know an American legend on a personal basis." For a personal assistant to a major fashion designer, the major perk was "the clothes, hands down. We had the best wardrobes in town. I hate shopping now. It was definitely the best."
as a fashion designer sans celebrity status and who does not desire to attain celebrity status this example was very interesting to me as i have paid my interns in cashmere and lunch. they did not come to work for me so they could sit next to an "American legend". they came to learn how to run a small label, and design knitwear and that's what i taught them. valuable skills for fashion students developing their own voices and own careers.

i know i use this word WAY too often (and i probably won't stop any time soon) but, celebrity assistant is not a sustainable career choice. one does not need experience making reservations, picking up laundry, and shopping for birthday gifts. these "skills" do not create a foundation from which to develop a vibrant, meaningful, fulfilling life. having said that, i am assuming that that is everyone's goal or at least eventual goal. it is clearly not.

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