Once again, a line from electronic media caught my attention and shook it, growling like a puppy with a bedroom slipper.
“Brad Pitt Wears Name Tag at Oscar Nominee Luncheon.” That was the line.
A picture of someone, presumably Brad Pitt, accompanied this story, if it was a story. Did someone write a whole story about how Brad Pitt wore a name tag? Are famous people so famous that one of them wearing a name tag is news?
If I were a famous person, I wouldn’t know all the other famous people. As it is, I don’t recognize blood relatives when I see them out of context. If I became famous, I’d constantly assume people, such as Taylor Swift and Chrissy Teigen and (searching my brain creases for another suitable name) Ariana Grande, were garden-variety humans.
“That’s some outfit,” I might think if I happened to see the humans on their way to an Oscar-nominee luncheon, but I certainly wouldn’t say, “It’s Taylor and Chrissy! And Ariana! Yo, Ariana!”
(I have never in real life said, “Yo!” I include it here for effect only.)
To be clear, famous people may earn my respect, but I rarely know what these people look like. I could be having breakfast next to, oh, say, Adele, and I wouldn’t even think she looked familiar. She wouldn’t look familiar.
This isn’t to say I couldn’t identify anybody. I might recognize a few celebrities, here and there. But all of them? Every person invited to an Oscar-nominee luncheon?
I imagine myself walking into a room swarming with Oscar nominees. Would I recognize actors right and left? I would not. But I would recognize Brad Pitt because Brad Pitt was wearing a name tag. Presumably the name tag said “Brad Pitt,” and not something intended to be ironic.
“Brad!” I could say. Or maybe, “Mr. Pitt!” The conversation would stop there unless Pitt had some questions for me because I have no idea what movies Brad Pitt has made or anything else about him.
I suppose I could say, “So what movies have you made?” but even I realize this is a question a person simply doesn’t ask at an Oscar-nominee luncheon. Any other question – even, “Did you try the Triscuit with the green glop on top?” – would be better.
My point is, name tags are helpful. They’re a starting point, a launch pad to social chitchat. If each person in the room believes he or she shouldn’t need a name tag, that only makes name tags more necessary.
Indeed, those among us who are so famous – and so confident in that fame as to believe every person on earth knows their name and face – should be reminded they aren’t as great as they think they are.
But I don’t really think that’s the case. I think it’s more of an affectation, this idea that no one at an Oscar-nominee luncheon needs any introduction. Everybody needs introductions. New actors are coming up all the time. Some people are too busy studying lines to run around meeting everybody.
Furthermore, the idea that all the famous people know all the other famous people so well that they’ll never again have to press one of those annoying “Hello! My name is ... ” stickers to the front of their clothes is not popular among average humans.
People who must wear these stickers naturally resent those who have been given a lifetime pass. If celebrities are free from name tags, what’s next? They don’t have to put on the backless gowns at the doctor’s office? They don’t have to show their registration to the traffic cop? They don’t have to put their hands behind their head at airport security?
I say no, no, a thousand times no. We are all, essentially, anonymous people whose names elude acquaintances who run into us in the new-books section of the library.
I hail Brad Pitt for boldly slapping on a name tag at the Oscar-nominee luncheon. Good for you, Brad Pitt.
Now tell me what it is you do in life.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.