The American dream is no longer about accomplishment – it is about achieving a Kardashian-level of fame. We’ve become a society that values the famous more than we do the virtuous.
This desire to be seen, to be known, to be recognized (no matter your dubious accomplishments) is insidious, teaching people that having your own reality show is the ultimate American achievement.
For anyone that thinks that happiness comes from being on screen (or having millions of Twitter followers), I’d recommend The Winner Stands Alone, a thought-provoking novel by Paulo Coelho. He’s the author of The Alchemist, a global phenomenon of a book about the authentic pursuit of your dreams.
Set in the glamorous world of the Cannes Film Festival, The Winner Stands Alone starts out as a murder-mystery but is more a meditation on the desire for fame. It’s a cruel book, at times, as it illustrates the lengths that the aspiring will go to become members of the “Superclass” – and the hollow center that they encounter once they arrive.
It’s a great book for anyone who wants to go to Hollywood, exposing the phony and worthless nature of the “fame game.”
The Winner Stands Alone is far from a perfect book. With all of Coelho’s novels, characters and dialogue are largely secondary to the parable that he wishes to tell. Everyone sounds like Coelho, the wise teacher.
The Alchemist is about following your dream; The Winner Stands Alone is about the danger of following someone else’s.