Now in her early 50s, the actress best known as a teenager on Family Ties lashes back at the distortions and toxicity of celebrity-obsessed culture.
Bateman insists from the outset that she has no interest in writing a memoir, though the narrative draws from her experiences and particularly from the emotions that those experiences elicited. Neither is it the book she originally intended to write, one that would have had more distance between the author and her subject and relied more on theory and research concerning the topic. There is still some of that here, reflecting the college education she pursued in her mid-40s, but “instead of the academic version I had already half-completed, [this is] rather a cut-to-the-bone, emotional-river-of-Fame book.” Bateman has no filter, whether she’s describing how it felt to be introduced to male fans who had masturbated to her photos or fending off the fathers who asked for autographs for their daughters while simultaneously trying to hit on her. The author shows how things changed with reality TV (“the cancer of America”) and with the internet that made fame available to anyone and made the famous targets for armies of anonymous trolls. “You cut and gut and make them bleed,” she writes about those who slam her online. “Type, type, peck.” And then they type, and she bleeds all over these pages, as if the passage of time and the maturity of decades can’t heal the hurt that she experienced when she went from very famous to not-so-famous and from young and thin to older and heavier. In almost stream-of-consciousness fashion, she takes readers along for a ride that few are prepared to experience: “You’re 16, 17, 18, 19, 20; you don’t know shit. It’s all happening too fast, too fast to do anything about. You’re doing school, the show, then this Fame. Much too fast. Unmanageable. Can only lie down in the canoe and let the rapids pull you downstream.”
Instead of crashing and burning, Bateman has found a life outside the maelstrom, ably described in this sharp, take-no-prisoners book.