Marilyn -- Here's Looking [Up] At You, Kid!

Strolling up Michigan Avenue you can't miss our towering white statue of Marilyn Monroe. Nor can you miss the knot of camera-clicking tourists staring ga-ga up at this massive American metaphor.

Marilyn IS a metaphor, you know. For beauty, sexuality, desirability, resentment, and whatever other repressed feelings she stirs in you. The studio made millions with the metaphor. In a moment of cruel honesty, one of their execs said of her untimely suicide: "The babe's greatest career move!"

But watching the gawkers here, you realize Marilyn is also a metaphor for everyone's secret Look-At-Me syndrome. Billions of us walk all our little lives in frustrated anonymity. And yet there's Marilyn. Goddess of fame with everyone still looking up at her. Why not me? Just for a little while?

The appetite for fame helps explain everything from legions of starving actors, to would-be American Idols. From zany pedestrians waving at every TV camera in sight, to all-too-many serial killers. And you can add years-of-training Olympic athletes, volunteers for the next survival-of or housewives-of network schlock show. Look, sometimes we get tired of living dreary lives of quiet desperation.

And so is born a reverse-desperation to catch one of these mercurial spotlights. No one is totally immune from the siren call of Look-At-Me. It's true from neighborhood punks looking for police-mug glory, to aircraft-carrier-landing presidents. We're all just a little too human to resist.

But then...! [Life is so damn filled with "but's"]. But then once some of us get it, like Marilyn, the time comes when we'd do anything to just be safe and private from the nattering crowds and glaring spotlights. Are we never satisfied...? Are we human...?

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