Sally Rooney became a household name among millennials and those in the publishing industry with the release of her second novel Normal People. The 30-year-old Irish author’s fame only intensified when the book was adapted into a hugely successful TV drama last year, propelling its stars and writer to astronomical success.
Now, Rooney, who has been dubbed the first great millennial novelist, has now opened up about the “poisonous system” of fame, likening it to “hell” and saying the system enriches corporations, not individuals.
“As far as I can make out, the way that celebrity works in our present cultural moment is that particular people enter very rapidly, with little or no preparation, into public life, becoming objects of widespread public discourse, debate and critique,” Rooney told The Guardian ahead of the release of her third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You?. Rooney described the act of becoming famous as one that often “happens without meaningful consent”—the famous person might not have ever wanted to become famous, but has no choice in the matter. “They just randomly happen to be skilled or gifted in some particular way, and it’s in the interests of profit-driven industries to exploit those gifts and to turn the gifted person into a kind of commodity,” she explained.
Continuing, Rooney said that the “hell” of fame now requires celebrities to put up with “variably serious invasions of their privacy from the media, from obsessive fans, and from people motivated by obsessive hatred”.
“I don’t think it is graceless for people in those positions to speak out about how poisonous this system is. It doesn’t seem to work in any real way for anyone, except presumably some shareholders somewhere.”