Why not strive for fame. “The Bitter Ones” say its a need to be envied and that going “viral”- a term which is in itself a euphemism for something that doesn’t exist, is virtual, and has no real meaning- is a metaphor for being fawned and gazed by the population at large; those who congregate at the scene of the crime. Mass intimacy spreadable over multiple media platforms as a just reward for obvious, tangible and often negligible creative skill. People want to get out of the ghetto and with social media and mobile platforms new opportunities arise to establish one self. However, the attacks from the so-called “educated intelligentsia” , the so-called civilized taste-makers is often brutal, cheap and mean. As if we don”t want “peasants” attending social functions unless its to serve food, clean and maintain the grounds. To some degree, we are still black tie, but no blacks, and new media phenomenon’s are seen as darkening the gene pool.
“Snooki was the squat, orange one on the show, whose most important contribution was getting punched in the face in a bar. Being punched in the face seemed to reach the limits of her ability, but it appears that Snooki, from the beginning, was involved in an elaborate postmodern game, using MTV and reality television as preparation for her career as a novelist. This week, with the publication of A Shore Thing (Gallery; $27.99), she is following in the footsteps of other great authoresses who started out as mere celebrities, writers like Nicole Richie and Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton and Paris Hilton’s dog. Like the works of those noble predecessors, A Shore Thing offers a searing indictment of the way we live now, though not entirely intentionally.” ( Marche)
but also helped transform the world he was born into. Chaplin’s work offered something new; he laughed the world into a new physical realm, exploring the ambiguities – indeed the comedy – of the body of modernity. Chaplin’s cinematic body defies verbal description – and that’s the point. His body transforms before our eyes; it even occasionally sprouts wings and flies. However, as the crumpled body of Chaplin’s Icarus-like fallen angel in The Kid shows us, he never loses his physical nature; his grace defies, but cannot deny, gravity. In the face of propriety he asserts the body’s less than genteel functions. But besides enacting the clown’s traditional role of affirming the body’s appetites against social convention, Chaplin’s physical nature also exceeds his human identityOr, the same cries of alarm come from the enlightened and institutionally antiseptic left:
“And we do so in the belief, of course, that fame will be accompanied by certain inalienable perks: infinite riches, sex on demand, plastinated beauty and an audience salivating with inexplicable delight at our every move, no matter how stupid, ungainly or dull.
But there’s a problem with this equation. Fame simply isn’t what it used to be. In the era of TMZ and Twitter, there is no such thing as the mystique of stardom any more. What we once innocently admired as lifestyles of the rich and famous have degenerated into obsessive image-management aided by obligatory revelations of DUIs, divorce, self-mutilation and rehab.
And Hollywood, true to form, is wallowing in self-pity. Celebrities want our sympathy and they’re willing to burst our bubble to prove it. Earlier this year, Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck’s mockumentary, I’m Still Here, pulled back the curtain on the kind of devouring, narcissistic personal hell that has afflicted movie stars since the advent of the studio system….
Sofia Coppola’s new film, Somewhere, takes it to a whole new level. In it, Stephen Dorff plays a disaffected Hollywood leading man who drifts around his suite at the Chateau Marmont hotel, ordering in strippers, indulging in random sex, and generally having no idea where, what or who he’s meant to be next. His chiselled blankness is as charismatic as it is disturbing – a metaphor for the allure of Hollywood itself, a place where illusion is everything. Or was.
According to U.S. cultural critic Cintra Wilson, author of the seminal 1999 riposte A Massive Swelling; Celebrity Re-examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations, the devaluation of celebrity spread with the democratization of fame (and took off big-time with reality TV and YouTube) and culminated in bald Britney hitting a paparazzo’s car with a baseball bat.( McLaren)
The above quotes are from competent, skilled, quality professional journalists that likely went to similar schools and whose credentials were formed in the same mold; just the color of the car changed. That’s, the problem, they are preaching from within the system, the status quo, trying to preserve status and privilege within a transitional period.The “haves” today, generally cling to the predictability of tomorrow. To those who are disatisfied, the unknown potential “something” is all they have.
Also,most of thse pundits make their living trashing, to some extent the media celebrities that are the raw material to be transformed by their superior manners and education. Albeit, to some degree they don’t always know if they are dealing with Mary Poppins or with Frankenstein.
Like the analyst of business news who is recommending stocks, his “top picks” , but in his mind he knows that if he was on his own, self employed, he wouldn’t think twice about dumping the shares and getting into something more original, and vital. But this phenomenon of bashing the upstarts is hardly recent. in fact has been around since the general usage of the term celebrity which took expansion with the advent of photography which coupled with the printing press began the profitable celebrity industry for the newspapers and magazines. From Tom Gunning:
“James Agee opened his novel A Death in the Family, the chronicle of young Rufus’ loss of his father, set in 1915 and published shortly after Agee’s untimely death in 1955 with this exchange: At supper that night, as many times before, his father said, “Well ’spose we go to the pictures show.” “Oh Jay!” his mother said. “That horrid little man!” “What’s wrong with him?” his father asked, not because he didn’t know what she would say, but so she would say it. “He’s so nasty!” she said, as she always did. “So vulgar! With his nasty little cane; hooking up skirts and things, and that nasty little walk!”
This opening elegantly not only brings us into a family situation, a child posed somewhat precariously in the middle of a conversation between his parents, but also defamiliarizes a figure so recognizable he need not be named. Seen through the distortion of nostalgia (as opposed to Agee’s sharply etched, ungilded memories) we are unlikely initially to recognize Charlie Chaplin in the horrid, nasty, vulgar little man. But indeed that was how Chaplin was received initially by guardians of culture, suspicious of vulgar slapstick, with its too-fast action, its love of speed and violence and its hatred of authority and propriety. Chaplin’s behavior flaunted social inhibitions, provoking censure or laughter depending on your point of view. But, as Rufus’ mother indicates, it wasn’t simply what Chaplin did that made him nasty but his physical being – not just hooking up skirts, but “that nasty little walk!”
The personality of a celebrity is often asserted to be contradictory. Which is why they are fascinating. Its the impersonality and absence of intimacy that is attractive as well as disposable. Mass intimacy is healthy, an outlet for the arduous and long-term responsibilities of personal understanding. There is an absurd logic here, but ultimately a liberating one.The nostalgic sentiments, that “before” an aristocracy of talent existed that has now been supplanted and uprooted, – placing these “victims” into genteel poverty?-is wishful; an idyllic past like the innocence of the Eisenhower years and the moral courage of those affected by the Great Depression and on….the past was meaner and dirtier than we want to see. All the great new wealth is not created by the aristocracy, but by those upstarts who left the ghetto in search of a better life. This is a brilliant quote by Stephen Marche:
“The invention of film took the magic of brand-name people and gave it world dominance. Film is celebrity, a something-nothing, a cloudy and vague gloss over reality. The earliest audiences were entranced not by the plots of her films but by Greta Garbo’s face, maybe the purest form of ecstasy the modern world has produced. The experience is both plural and singular, the transmission of an image that spreads everywhere but seems directed at each individual viewer. The illusion of mass intimacy changes celebrities into works of art felt so deeply that they are no longer art—Greta Garbo becomes more interesting than any movie in which her face appears.”
Much of the human condition is brittle, hard yet in fragile in equal measure; private concerns being an enclosing reality separate from the public face that goes on undisturbed around, the constant background ambience. Even with love, there is a vacuum; a migration that Lewis Carroll saw in Alice in Wonderland toward an escape, though in the real world these distinct journeys can meander into some dark and obscure places. With human suffering religion is basically a balm, or sedative. Ironically, we communicate best in silence; does our own grief ever disappear? A Snooki or 15 minute of fame YouTube star has as much right as anyone else to pose the question and seek to resolve the problem whether we disagree with the aesthetic or not. “Do what you may, harm no one”.
In “Rabbit Hole” one notable piece of dialogue is over whether grief ever goes away: ” No, but it changes , the weight of it. It turns into something you can carry around, like a brick in your pocket. It’s what you’ve got,…” Celebrity is almost an icon of grief that has been morphed from an awful burden into something more familiar, but intimate only from a distance and in small doses; a vague familiarity that becomes its own form of solace. Its far from ideal, but is there any alternative?