Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Celebrities Are Too Much With Us, Now

I think most people are starting to suffer from celebrity fatigue by now.

The world has always had celebrities, although not to the extent we have today.  Back in whatever, B.C., you might have some kings and religious leaders that "everyone" knew about, but that was about it.  Maybe later, in the Renaissance era, artists and military leaders might be "famous" but then again, you could probably count them on two hands.  Without a mass-media, it was hard to become a celebrity.  Maybe in Greek times, you could hope that someone would write an epic poem about you or something - otherwise, your dreams of celebrity were dust.

Thus, it was the advent of modern media that created the modern celebrity.  First newspapers, then the radio, the movies, and then television, and today, the Internet and social media. Today, anyone can be a celebrity - and often are.  Andy Warhol predicted that "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."  The future has arrived early.  Only Warhol had it wrong - celebrities can be celebrities for life, and we literally have hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of them.

There are many types of celebrities, of course:

1. Movie Star Celebrity

2. Television Celebrity

3. Athlete Celebrity

4. Musical Celebrity

5. Businessman/Billionaire Celebrity

6. Stage Actor Celebrity

7. Political Celebrity

8. Celebrity Celebrity

9. Criminal/Bad Boy Celebrity

10. Celebrity Chef 

There are probably many more as well.  And you can be more than one type of celebrity at a time, or morph from one type to another.  Ronald Reagan started out as a move star celebrity and morphed into a political one.  OJ Simpson started out as an athlete celebrity, then became a movie star celebrity, and then finished up as a criminal celebrity.

That's the beauty of the system - when you find your celebrity fading in one area, you can expand to another.  For example, Pete Davidson started out as a Television Celebrity on Saturday Night Live and then morphed into a Criminal Celebrity by getting busted for drugs.  Now he's a Celebrity Celebrity, by dating a Kardashian (I guess, I don't keep up as much as I should!).  Martha Stewart started out as a Celebrity Chef (a relatively new category, pioneered by Jacques Pepin and Julia Child, who failed to really capitalize on their fame) and morphed to Criminal Celebrity and now Celebrity Celebrity with Snoop Dog, who was a Musical, Criminal, and now Celebrity Celebrity as well.  You can be famous for being famous - and make a lot of money at the same time.

The secret, of course, to becoming a celebrity and remaining one, is to keep your name in the papers at all times.  If people stop talking about you, by default, you are no longer a celebrity.  So you do anything to get attention - positive or negative.  The latter is easier to attain.   If you find people have forgotten about you, acquire a drug habit, have an incident with law enforcement (in California, your Agent can arrange this as part of a package deal) and then get a suspended sentence and go into rehab.  The key, of course, is to go on a tear-filled apology tour on the talk-show circuit, recounting how hard it was to be a celebrity "under all that pressure" and a sympathetic (pathetic) talk show host will nod and hold your hand.  They know they will have to go this route if their popularity wanes as well.

Celebrities quickly become tiresome.  For many people, living their lives vicariously through the lives of celebrities is all they have in the world.  They can tell you the intimate details of a number of celebrities lives, many of whose names will be foreign to you.  I have run into this many a time as of late, and when I press for details as to who the celebrity is, they recoil in horror.  "You don't know who Sha'-nisha is?  She was famous for being in Celebrity Roommates Survival Pawn Wars Cookoff!"  Usually this is followed by, "What's your favorite reality show?"

When you tell then you don't watch reality television, or indeed, much television at all, they freak out. How on earth can you keep up with the celebrities!

Recently, there has been much ado about some celebrities, and (a) we are all supposed to care so much about them, and (b) we are either supposed to give them unconditional love or unconditional damnation.  It is love or hate - nothing in-between.  Prince Henry and Meghan Markle apparently are on Netflix (and another sign of Netflix's desperation - they paid them $100M?).  People hate them because they said bad things about the Queen (?) or something.   They are famous for... being famous.  They are sort of Political Celebrities or ex-Political Celebrities, and are now Celebrity Celebrities - famous for being famous.  I am not sure how you make money from that, but they do.

Actually, it is amazing how much money you can make for being famous - even if you never did anything.  And people will try any angle to finagle their 15 minutes of fame into a book deal (optioned to a movie, of course) and do the talk-show circuit.  If you are really famous, you can endorse products, sell a clothing line, have your name on a pair of sneakers or even a designer edition SUV.  Maybe that's why the richest man in the world is no longer Elon Musk but the owner of LVMH which is a collection of high-end designer and fashion brands.  No one is interested in buying a Musk-branded handbag or athletic shoe and it appears fewer people are even interested in his cars.  Politicizing your brand is a difficult and inadvisable thing to do.

But maybe he can turn that around. Volkswagen was successful in changing "Hitler's Car" into a counter-culture left-wing status symbol.  Of course, it helped that Hitler was 20-years dead by that point and they weren't making apologies for him.

But speaking of Musk (must we?) he is a prime example of someone who is famous for being famous.  He modeled himself as a Businessman/Billionaire Celebrity, which he bootstrapped by having bots and fanboys amplify his celebrity online as the savior of humanity (as well as by creating a compelling and entirely false backstory).  He managed to morph this into appearances on Saturday Night Live as well as many talk shows and whatnot.  And of course, once you reach a certain level of Celebrity (B list, at least) you get invited to the Celebrity parties and events, where the Paparazzi (which you profess to hate, but secretly love) take your picture which the tabloids obligingly print. You've now become a Celebrity Celebrity.

Keeping your name in the papers isn't hard to do.  And one way is to morph - like a professional wrestler - from a "good guy" to a "bad guy" which is a smart move as people talk more about the guy everyone likes to hate than they do about the guy they like.  The recent appearance of Musk on Dave Chappelle's comedy show in San Francisco has many scratching their heads.  What was he supposed to do, tell jokes?  Did they think people would just applaud because he existed?

Or maybe they hoped for boo-ing or even staged it.  That way you can score points by claiming to be a victim of "cancel culture" or whatever and paint yourself as one of the oppressed.  It is interesting that he chose do to this at a Chappelle event - another celebrity who has used negative attention to his advantage. He is the oppressed black/white man who is being "cancelled" for speaking his mind!  People have to agree with him and give him money!  It's in the Constitution - read it sometime!

Seriously, though, I wonder if it was manufactured controversy with the Musk-boo thing.  After all, given all the heat (and little light) over this "Chubby Chappelle TERF" manufactured controversy, you wouldn't think the types of people attending one of his "concerts" would be boo-ing Musk, but cheering him.  After all, Chappelle has all but come out as conservative Republican (which many entertainers do, once they get their tax bills).

Chappelle is hardly black, being raised in a white suburb of DC and now living on a farm in rural (and very conservative) Ohio.  He has become Clayton Bixby in his old age, which is nothing new these days, as we have a black leader of the "Proud Boys" and a Latino guy leading a white supremacist group.  Someone should give them the memo that in the Republican Country Club the only way they are getting in, is through the back entrance - and only as a busboy.  Ask Candice Owens about this.  The gays they already threw out, but they will let "Mr. Jonathan" do their wive's beehive hair and allow them to do the floral arrangements for the annual dinner.  Minorities are welcome, provided they know their place.

If you want to be a white supremacist, it helps to be white.  Sorry, we don't consider Latino as white.  Even people from Spain, Italy, or Greece are looked upon with suspicion, historically and even today.  If you want to jump on the white supremacist bandwagon, you'd had better have a Nordic, Germanic, or British background (No Irish need apply).  Don't kid yourself, otherwise.  The slightest hint of swarthiness or "ethnicity" tosses you out of the club.

And that illustrates why this sort of thinking is stupid and always has been.  And yes, back in the Nazi era, there were always hangers-on who the Nazis were happy to use to achieve their own ends.  There were Jews who turned in Jews, Arabs who joined the SS, and people from Slavic countries who didn't get the message that Hitler considered them an inferior race worthy only of slaughter.  And yes, there were gays who thought the Nazi uniforms were keen. Gays do make the best Nazis - but they, too, are eventually sent off to the camps.

I digress, but not by much. Having outrageous political opinions is one way to maintain visibility and get attention.  Being middle-of-the-road or a real conservative (balanced budgets, cutting spending, boring!) or real liberal (also boring) isn't going to garner much attention or get you in the papers.  So you have to embrace neo-Nazism or wacky liberalism in order to break out from the pack.

And right there is the problem - us not them.  They do these things because we reward them for it by paying attention to their antics and acting like their every move or fart is worthy of discussion and speculation. "Gosh, what do you think she had to eat in order to fart like that?"  That pretty much sums up celebrity worship.

Of course, some would be quick to point out - and they would be right - that I am just as much part of the problem as well.  Here I am, posting about celebrities, and complaining about Elon Musk!  Playing right into his game!  You can't complain about celebrity worship by talking about celebrities! 

That is very true, and talking about Movie Star Celebrities or Celebrity Celebrities only serves to maintain their celebrity status.  But Political Celebrities and Businessman/Billionaire Celebrities are unique in that they exert significant control over our lives, either directly or indirectly, through legislation (which they either enact, as Politicians, which in turn are controlled, by Billionaires) or by manipulating and controlling markets.  It should be worrying to all of us that a few wealthy people control most of the media, worldwide, and moreover have enough money to influence if not outright control, our politics.   It makes the antics of the Kardashians look pitiful in comparison (which they are, even without comparison).

It just gets so exhausting after a while, these antics of the celebrities.  Every day there is some new outrage or scandal and most of it appears to be manufactured.  Kanye says we should "forgive" Hitler and that Nazis weren't so bad.  He needs to read this Wikipedia entry sometime (warning: bring barf bag).  Performing medical experiments on humans with X-rays isn't funny. But Kanye is just the latest example of a black celebrity who thinks they are going to get into the KKK.  It makes no freaking sense.

It would be nice, for just a few days, to not hear about celebrities for a change.  And the only way to do this is to simply not consume any media.  The problem, again, is us.  We click on this bullshit so they send us more of it.  Our capacity for outrage is apparently endless.

There has to be a way to break this vicious cycle!