Name dropping

I'm going to be vague about what I'm going to say because I don't want to indict any particular person, but point out an attitude that is either geographical or contemporary.

Recently, I heard someone give a talk and couldn't help but notice that they used every opportunity to drop names of successful and famous people they've met, know, or are going to know. Chicago isn't a wannabe type of place; it's down-to-earth to the point where only a small segment of the female populace cares about wearing the latest fashions or starving themselves to near-death. The person who was talking lives in LA, though I think they're not a native (as is the case with a lot of people out there).

Here's an example of what they said, with the specifics removed: "My relative was speaking at a family event, and well, my relative is a famous --- and, well, okay, I'll tell you: my relative is so-and-so."

Nobody cared about who the relative was enough to ask, but the speaker mentioned it anyway. And it just continued--at every turn, they mentioned projects they were working on, and inserted references to famous people they worked with or whose agents they "had" to contact, and even mentioned conversations they'd had with the insanely wealthy. As in, "I was talking with ---, who's the founder of ---" and they paused to see what our reaction was.

The first famous reference (the relative) seemed to impress some people, but after that, the audience just seemed to want to hear the speaker's journey, not their rich and famous laundry list.

Or maybe that's my perception, because that's how I felt. Still, I may be right because the audience didn't seem to audibly react to each reference with a gasp of, "Oh wow! We're simple-minded midwesterners, and you're a big-shot from LA who knows Everyone Who Matters! Please, let us touch you!"

After all those names were dropped, I managed to crawl out from under them to get enough air and wonder if the speaker is just a perpetually unsatisfied wannabe. They are successful--no doubt about that, but I would guess that they don't think they're successful enough, which is why they use The Names to Matter.

I know people in LA who don't drop names even though they've met famous and wealthy people, but is that name-dropping game an LA thing, or is it a product of our celebrity-obsessed culture?


Jon Konrath said...

You know, I was talking about this very same thing the other day when I was having lunch with George Lucas.

mj said...

:roll eyes: