Let me preface this post by saying I have very little interest in celebrities. I don’t care what they do, what they buy, how they dress, where they live, what they drive, or what they eat, and could never understand pop culture’s obsession with them. (I’d much rather read the bio of a scientist or humanitarian than an actress or professional athlete.)
So you can imagine how puzzled I was when my husband forwarded me this interview with Vincent Kartheiser (the actor who plays Pete Campbell in Mad Men) from the Guardian. “Trust me,” he said, “just read about halfway down.”
I dutifully skimmed the article, and was surprised and delighted to read the following:
Some of the ways that Kartheiser has chosen to do this are unconventional, at least among Hollywood TV stars. He has, for example, in the city of cheap gas and freeways, given up on a car.
“I go on the bus, I walk. A friend left his car recently at my house and I took it out one day just for 15 minutes and it was terrible. You know why? I felt like I was back in LA again. Four or five years ago, when I had a car and I had been out of the city I wouldn’t feel I was back until I got in the car, you know. But now I feel off the grid. I feel that I am not part of the culture. And because I don’t have a car I don’t really go anywhere to buy things. In fact, I have been in a slow process of selling and giving away everything I own.”
He has? Like what?
“Like, I don’t have a toilet at the moment. My house is just a wooden box. I mean I am planning to get a toilet at some point. But for now I have to go to the neighbours. I threw it all out.”
(As he says this, I’m wondering whether this is just another of the parts Kartheiser might be trying on for size, but to prove the point he later takes me back to his house, which really is an empty wooden box, a small one-room bungalow on a nondescript Hollywood street and indeed it has no lavatory.) Is that a Buddhist thing, I wonder, or an early midlife crisis thing?
“It started a couple of years ago,” he says. “It was in response to going to these Golden Globe type events and they just give you stuff. You don’t want it. You don’t use it. And then Mad Men started to become a success on a popular level and people started sending me stuff, just boxes of shit. Gifts for every holiday, clothes. One day, I looked around and thought ‘I don’t want this stuff, I didn’t ask for it’. So I started giving it to friends or charity stores, or if it is still in its box I might sell it for a hundred bucks. I liked it so I didn’t stop.”
How refreshing! Instead of bragging about a garage full of luxury cars, he talks about the joy of not owning one; instead of giving a house tour of a thirty-bedroom mansion, he shows off his one-room bungalow; and instead of accumulating designer clothes and other swag, he sells or gives everything away.
How wonderful would it be if actors like Vincent Kartheiser became Hollywood’s new role models? Instead of impressing the masses with what they own, they could inspire them by what they don’t own. Perhaps conspicuous consumption would fall out of favor, and be replaced by a popular interest in minimalist living… (I can dream!)
I wanted to share this because I suspect that many of you (like me) would never have tripped across this on your own. I think it’s wonderful to have a minimalist in the public spotlight, and hope that it introduces more people to this fabulous lifestyle.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this — and wonder if anyone knows of other minimalist celebrities?