This weekend had a number of interesting encounters with people who would fall into the Microfame bucket. Microfame is when you are very famous within a small circle of people, but outside of that you are largely unknown. These people would be easily recognized for their accomplishments in one environment, perhaps mobbed by fans if the location was right, yet be able to walk down the street in most places and be completely left alone.
On Saturday, we went to Star Wars Celebration in Los Angeles. It was a great way to spend the day between the two nights of JRock Revolution shows. At SWC, there were the usual attendees dressed like Star Wars characters (lots of Storm Troopers and too many people dressed as love-slave Leia) and the trade show with every Star Wars action figure you could possibly imagine on display or for sale. Near the back of the trade show was the autograph area where you could pay to get signed pictures of many of the cast members from the 6 films. A few of the "big names" were there, including Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker though none of the superstars showed up (Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, and either of the Obi Wan Kenobis - though Alec Guiness has the best excuse). The most interesting ones, to me at least, were the small but memorable parts. The lines or moments in the movie that define it, if only to the geeks who've watched it dozens of times.
To that end, I got three autographs for my wall by some of the lesser known, yet still significant characters in the first Star Wars movie (aka Episode 4).
Richard LeParmentier as Admiral Motti - the first man to be "Force Choked" in the series and whose line "This station is now the ultimate power in the universe. I suggest we use it." leads in to Darth Vader's classic line "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed; the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force." Ah memories...
Garrick Hagon as Biggs Darklighter - Luke's friend from Tatooine and Red three in the final assault on the Death Star who's best line is when, as Luke's wingman on the final run, Luke says "we're going in full throttle, that oughta keep those fighters off our back" and Biggs says "Luke, at that speed will we be able to pull out in time?". Luke responds cooly, "It'll be just like Beggar's Canyon back home." I love lines that can be used just as effectively out of context...
The ultimate useful out of context line, though, is "These aren't the droids we're looking for". Uttered in our first hint that the Force really does have some power and the actor who uttered that famous line was Anthony Forrest. According to Forrest, lawyers are particularly fond of that line.
Getting back to Micro Fame, though, each of these people are very well known to the attendees of Star Wars Celebration IV and their role in Star Wars history is undeniable but outside of that world, they are not well known at all.
The best example from the weekend, though, relates to JRock Revolution. Each of those bands at the show are very popular in Japan, some of them selling out huge arenas back home and having millions of adoring fans. Yet nearly every one of them could walk down the streets of LA a block from the show and be completely anonymous. Not one person who wasn't attending the show would know who they were.
On Saturday night, we were sitting near the back of the main floor of the theater in a little section behind the sound board with bar stool seats and tables. Behind us was a little section with some additional seats, kind of like a boxed seats section within the theater. Part way through the first band on Saturday, Kate and Sandra tell me that Yoshiki from the band X Japan, and the organizer of the event was sitting right behind me. Sure enough, three feed behind me was a Japanese guy in a bright white outfit and sunglasses watching the show. Shortly before the end of each set, he would disappear backstage and then return during the first song of the following band. During the second band, I introduced myself and thanked him for putting on the show. During the next set, Kate and Sandra both got autographs but it wasn't until he stepped out on stage to thank the audience that people walking by started to recognize him and ask for pictures and even then, only a dozen or so people stopped by. At their peak, X Japan was filling huge stadiums in Japan and he is part of the upcoming "supergroup" Skin which includes Gackt and Miyavi. Yet, here he sits in a mid sized theater in LA, able to sit with the rest of the crowd to enjoy the show.
Somehow I think Sting or Bono would not be able to do the same thing.