A gentleman gasps when:
A. Tom Cruise is seated at a nearby table in a restaurant
B. Seeing Tyra Banks filming a Victoria Secret’s advertisement
C. Meeting a US Senator
A gentleman is not easily impressed, but when he is impressed, it is from something worthy; a heroic act of courage, a brilliant intellectual feat, an amazing act of compassion. It is not because he sees a well known actor, or happens to cross paths with the rich or powerful. A stupid, foolish person is not any less stupid or foolish just because they happen to be famous. And a rich person is just rich, until you have some reason to believe that they possess some other virtue.
One of the most pathetic symptoms of the sickness that is the modern culture of the United States is the idea that someone should be celebrated simply because they are well known. The stupidest, silliest, people – Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears – become icons whose every move is followed as if it, well, mattered. Huge amounts of energy and resources are dedicated to following the utterly inconsequential privates lives of these public people, while intelligent people do important work in utter obscurity.
A gentleman does not care about fame, but he does care about worth. If one does not know someone, they should be treated somewhat distantly, as no intimacy has been established. Over time, as one gets to know that person, you act accordingly; someone who merits attention should receive it. If you happen to know a celebrity, they should be judged as any other person – not by their public reputation, unless you have reason to believe that is credible, but by their actions. In other words, not by public relations, but by facts as you directly perceive them, not as they are filtered and interpreted by others.