2016: The Year of Celebrity Bios

We’ve all heard the stories of dedicated fans running up to actors and calling them by their character’s names. Surely, we think to ourselves, I would never accidentally call Daniel Radcliffe “Harry” if I were engaged in civilized conversation with him. Or would I…? Now with the luxury of streaming our favorite movies and TV shows in our homes and binge-watching every single episode of a season until we get off our couches looking more like our cave-dwelling ancestors, we get to spend so much time with our favorite characters that we actually feel like we know them. Now the question is, do we actually want to get to know the people playing these characters?

Biographies and memoirs of the famed and fortunate are nothing new. We can read about kings and presidents, rock stars and adventurers, sports heroes and child prodigies. But 2016 was all about our entertainers. Mara Wilson, known mainly as the most adorable child actor in 90s mentertainer-biosovies like “Matilda” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” penned “Where Am I Now?” Anna Kendrick, best known for her roles in “Pitch Perfect” and “Twilight”
released “Scrappy Little Nobody”. The universe’s most beloved princess, Carrie Fisher, published “The Princess Diarist”, and the villain we most love to hate played by Bryan Cranston relinquished on the world “A Life in Parts”, describing the long
and winding road it took to get him to play the role of a lifetime, Walter White aka Heisenberg.
What these books do best is humanize these giant stars we hold up on our hi-def pedestals. We get to see the crummy summer jobs they had as adolescents. We witness their struggles with drugs and alcohol, shattering the illusions of glamorous and easy Hollywood (or New York) living. They bicker with their parents, just like us. They have to deal with rejection, awkwardly discover their sexuality, and take any stage, commercial, or soap opera job they can get before their names ever make it to the limelight. Is it worth shattering the patina of perfection we’ve painted for our much-sung heroes? What does knowing about their past, about their failures, their adventures, their love lives do to help us? If nothing else, it brings them closer to the earth and makes them relatable. We see they’ve had the same experiences as us, and that makes them brothers and sisters in arms, members of the human race. And maybe, quite possibly, it makes them feel just a little bit closer to being an actual friend. Just remember though – if you ever see Bryan Cranston on the street, please don’t call him Walter. You’ve seen what the man is capable of.
-Anna Kongs