Voices: When Kevin Bacon pretended to be normal for a day, he hated it – can you really blame him?

Not being famous almost drove Kevin Bacon mad, and it only lasted five minutes (Getty Images)
Not being famous almost drove Kevin Bacon mad, and it only lasted five minutes (Getty Images)

I think my biggest pet peeve is hearing famous people complain about the trappings of fame. In a world where some people’s most meaningful social interactions come from porn bots liking their tweets, I don’t want to know that a millionaire feels suffocated by the mortifying ordeal of being known.

That’s why it was quite refreshing to read about Kevin Bacon’s recent experience, which saw the Footloose and Tremors star go undercover to research life as a “normal” person. The 65-year-old actor commissioned a special effects artist to create a prosthetic disguise, which he then donned before venturing out to an LA mall to get a sense of what it’s like to live here at the foot of Mount Olympus. His verdict? It “sucks”.

“People were kind of pushing past me, not being nice,” Bacon explained to Vanity Fair. “Nobody said, ‘I love you.’ I had to wait in line to buy a f****** coffee or whatever. I was like, ‘This sucks. I want to go back to being famous’.”

Can’t really argue with him there.

Honestly, not being famous is terrible. I have a couple of friends who could, were we to stretch the definition of the word to its absolute limit, be considered “celebrities”, and I can’t stand it when they complain about being recognised on the street. I’m barely recognised in my own house. I’d kill for that kind of validation.

Not being famous almost drove Kevin Bacon mad, and it only lasted five minutes. Just imagine how the rest of us feel. No special treatment, no adoring public. Nobody wants to see me fighting the X-Men, or selling mobile phones. They sure as hell aren’t playing a game called “Six Degrees of Ryan Coogan”.

Bacon isn’t the only star to go undercover. Apparently there are quite a few celebs who get a kind of perverse thrill from pretending to be normal people with regular jobs, instead of the holy beings of pure light that they actually are.

American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel used to have a semi-regular segment on his show where famous people would pull a similar trick to Bacon, dressing up in costumes and trying to blend in with members of the public. Participants included Machine Gun Kelly, Miley Cyrus, and Drake, who after being publicly eviscerated by Kendrick Lamar is probably thrilled to know he can disappear whenever he wants.

Why all this fascination with celebrities cosplaying as average Joes and Joe-ettes? Not just why do they do it – at this point I just assume they’re looking for a way to break up the monotony between yacht trips and foie gras lunches – but why do we find it so entertaining?

I wonder if it’s because we enjoy being reminded that, despite dominating the cultural landscape and dictating the zeitgeist, underneath it all they’re just as human as you or I (let’s just ignore the fact that they need four pounds of prosthetic make-up to do it). Maybe we want to see these big shots taken down a peg by making them do the most humiliating thing we can think of – being us. Or maybe it’s just that we just enjoy the lie that there’s a downside to status, money, and good looks.

Whatever it is, it’s hard to ignore the fact that when Kevin Bacon gets bored of standing in queues and having his table reservations rejected, he can dramatically whip off his mask of normalcy and go back to being the guy who get harpooned in the first Friday the 13th movie. He’s a tourist in our lives, and now he gets to go back to the home comforts of global adoration.

As for the rest of us? Well, I’m sure fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway.