Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crashing NYC

Remember the movie Wedding Crashers? Remember a few months ago when those people crashed that White House state dinner?

"Crashers" aren't just people who go to events where they're not invited. They're also folks who pretend to be celebrities and use their "celebrity" to do things like get into exclusive clubs and restaurants, score free food and booze, and go backstage at shows. In short, to skip to the head of the line.

I've never understood why people become crashers. Why go somewhere you're not wanted? Is that really fun? It only seems to confirm that you are not someone you wish you were. But this hilarious piece from the New York Press sheds some light on why people do crash.

In February 2001, the author was hanging out at a bar with what he was led to believe was the actress Helena Bonham Carter's posse (she's been in a lot of Merchant-Ivory movies plus Fight Club and is now married to -- or living with -- Tim Burton and appears in all his movies). This led to a series of ridiculous events where the fake Helena and her friends almost got backstage at "Saturday Night Live." The author had some legitimate pull there and was used by these crashers to get in. I don't remember hearing about this then but apparently this incident ended up in Page Six and caused something of a hubbub back in those days just before 9/11.

What's great about this piece is that it makes you understand why people crash.

This fake Helena and her friends were at this bar, just hanging out, when one of the people working there asked if she was the movie star. When this woman lied and said yes, suddenly she and her friends were getting free champagne and exclusive seating. What was the point of being honest and just giving that up? Is a movie star somehow more worthy of free booze than a regular person just by virtue of being famous? Who was this hurting? The bar owners were dumb enough to give "Helena" and her friends free booze so why shouldn't these folks, they figured, get it too?

And that's what motivate crashers. It's revenge on those who give and are given things for free just because they're rich, famous, beautiful, powerful, connected, whatever. Crashing is about exposing how the world really works, showing why some people get the good stuff in life for reasons that have nothing to do with things like being honest, hardworking, virtuous, and good. You know, the things we were taught as children were important but, as grown-ups, find out really aren't.

Crashing is a form of terrorism in a way. It's the most harmless kind to be sure, but still a hostile act: outsiders lie and steal in order to become insiders -- if only very briefly -- so as to hurt and humiliate the very people they hate because they are not them. There's no excusing crashing just like there's no excusing any act of terrorism but the more you think about it, the more you understand why some people do go to that extreme: when people feel that they have no chance in life to get what they want or think they deserve well ... then they'll just take it without asking or hurt those who they think are denying it to them.

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

Interestingly enough, this week, I was invited to an exclusive party where there will be a few celebrities. I've never been invited to such an event before but why was invited now? Because I have a blog! And for no other reason. I may or may not go but, if I do, I'll blog about it here. Why might I not go? Because I've always felt like an outsider, I've always been one, and, unlike crashers, in many ways I'm more comfortable being on this side of the fence. And that's why I might not go: because even though I've been invited, if I go, somehow I'll feel like I'd be ... crashing ...

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