Fiction of celebrity: somewhere drunk with passion

Dancing with the stars. Celebrity. What price? ……..Celebrity is not the same as being celebrated , but celebrity is often a precondition of being famous.The  concept of celebrity as study in itself, as in being a celebrity,is a modern invention, of which ultimately, we the consumer are responsible for the set of values, expectations, and cultural associations related to it. To listen to the diatribe and tension over different forms of cultural production, and their artistic merits, or lack thereof misses the notion of celebrity as a set of practices rather than a specific set of artifacts. That is, its better to understand a broad range of celebrity activities than to seek to define or defend the concept.

The key assumption is to forget that there is anything intrinsically artistic about the entertainment mediums or even   any medium and its artform for that matter; in each case the dynamic of interactivity is slightly different. Whatever. It can all be distilled down to the nature of the rhetoric.  As for art, well, it can be regarded as a moniker, a label, an almost meaningless word, or as Jenkins would say,  a socially constructed definition that serves a political, ideological, and economic agenda.

Janet Whitman:Marilyn Monroe is about to get a makeover. Rights to the late film icon's name and image were acquired Thursday from her estate by Toronto-based dealmaker Jamie Salter and his U.S. partners, who have plans to introduce a line of branded lingerie, handbags, jewellery and fragrances, and possibly a reality-TV show.

The standard axiom states that the personality of a celebrity is inherently a contradiction. There cannot be genuine intimacy  because he or she offers mass intimacy, or its mass produced personality devours its own personal limitation of intimacy. As a meditation on the power of celebrity, almost every case study from Elvis to Michael Jackson  presents an emphatic view of fame as a predator that grows strong through the sacrifice of superior values, while simultaneously condemning a celebrity-hungry society that exults in the ephemeral qualities of charisma and talent.

Even image management cannot always control the seemingly devouring, narcissistic depths to which many succumb. Whether the devaluation of celebrity has spread with the democratization of fame may be sentimental thinking and equally disturbing. If pop culture as Pauline Kael claimed, is the only culture; we still cannot turn back the dial and listen to radio. Whether its progress is debatable, but it is certainly change in the way we consume media. And this change also means disposability. The standard trope is the famous person trapped into the beautiful cage.  Tiger Woods getting hacked with a pitching wedge or Brittany hitting t-ball off a photographers car are hardly new. The media platforms and the “spreadabiltiy” of the events are. Its only when morality enters into the equation that we run into the phony dialogue between rules versus stories; deviating narrative versus a small g god.

Stephen Dorff in "Somewhere" by Sofia Coppola. It may be a bit extreme to claim that fame is "corrosive and character eroding" ; its as much a reflection of ourselves.....

But what is there to really  testify to the predatory nature of celebrity…. Former NFL star Lawrence Taylor pleaded guilty last Thursday to sexual misconduct and patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute, misdemeanour charges that carry no jail time but require him to register as a sex offender. Fame simply is not what it used to be, or is cracked up to be.  The 51-year-old ex-linebacker, who led the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991, will serve six years probation. “She told me she was 19,” Taylor, standing with his hands clasped behind him, said in court as he admitted having intercourse with the prostitute, who turned out to be a Bronx runaway. Taylor said he now knows the girl was 16 and legally incapable of consent. He said he paid her US$300. Read More:–lawrence-taylor-pleads-guilty-to-2-charges-in-prostitution-case-avoids-jail ….Lawrence Taylor‘s lawyers say that the condom was not his and was left behind by someone else who stayed in the hotel room.
source: Lawrence Taylor rape defense: I didn’t touch teen hooker, I touched myself [NY Daily News]

---As with the Byromania, the Byrophobia was the result of the sheer gravitational weight of a fame that had the power to distort everything around it. As one of the earliest beneficiaries of a new kind of entrepreneurial celebrity forged in the furnace of rapid industrialization and no longer dependent on the authority of conquest, church, or heredity, Byron embodied a phenomenon that was new and unnerving in the range of emotions it could elicit and the power seemingly at its command. ---

Byron. Blame it on Byron. He was the first real “glamorous” celebrity. the heart throb of his time, and his posthumous reputation    grew almost exponentially. Concurrently,  his own literary fame  quietly faded, timidly retreated behind the long shadow of Byronism; the larger than life anguish of the romantic genius cum tortured soul. “Byron’s peers recognized celebrity as part of Byron’s personal aura. As Lady Blessington wrote upon first meeting him in 1823: “Byron had so unquenchable a thirst for celebrity, that no means were left untried that might attain it: … there was no sort of celebrity he did not, at some period or other, condescend to seek.” But notice that Lady Blessington is not using the word “celebrity” in the same way that Byron’s biographer, who quotes her, is using it. For Lady Blessington, the word is largely pejorative and means “notoriety.”Read More:

From the point of his exile from England  to the end of his death in Greece, Byron was swallowed, chewed up, by this monster of what he helped create. This in turn caused him  to adopt heretofore behaviors that abetted his notoriety such as  eccentricities of coquettishness and an absurd penchant for provocation. He, has had been said was marked as the first to which the fictions, illusions and imaginations of his   celebrity had come home  to consume their creator.

"---The rape occurred early on Thursday morning at a hotel in Montebello, New York, about 25 miles north of New York City, Ramapo police said in a statement. "Formal charges will be filed upon the completion of our investigation," the statement said. The victim was a 15-year-old runaway who was brought by a pimp to the hotel where Taylor was staying, Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence tol

e Journal News.---

…”Intricate and subtle technologies for attaching fame to persons both mortal and divine now serve commodities and their personification in brands. The icons of Andy Warhol, raised in the Eastern Orthodox church, register the equivalence which modern strategies of public relations, propaganda, and advertising have established between brands (Brillo and Campbell’s), entertainers, and politicians. In the marketplace of goods, the cycle of modern celebrity demands constant self-reinvention and rebranding (from Lord Byron and Pablo Picasso to Bob Dylan and Madonna) to maintain the limelight. Another strategy is to claim the status of an unchanging classic, binding oneself to an earlier fame technology, as in Ronald Reagan’s cowboy routine, George Clooney’s Cary Grant shtick, or the invention by Coca-Cola, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein of a new iconography of American eternity.

…John Lennon, reproached for recognizing that a pop group might be “bigger than Jesus,” said that he moved to New York City because if he had lived during the Roman Empire he would have wanted to live in Rome. One of Manhattan’s paradoxes—with tragic consequences for Lennon—is that it houses vast engines of global magnification and projection while constantly reducing celebrities to human size. Madonna’s early rise was through the sweaty clubs of New York’s downtown celebrity industry, but her apotheosis was only confirmed when she drew materially and immaculately upon the resources of Hollywood and the Vatican.( John Tresch )Read More: a

---The work became virtually secondary to the man whose own identity was the real achievement, sending London “stark mad,” according to the poet Samuel Rogers, in their efforts to inhabit some small part of him. Men practiced Byronic scowls at their dressing tables, but it was women for whom the work resonated most strongly, drawn to the poet’s fantasies of unconstrained movement that gave voice to freedoms they were otherwise flatly denied. Many went to extraordinary lengths to get near him, propositioning him at the theater, turning up at his house, or disguising themselves as chambermaids. They bombarded him with letters filled with frank confessions and amorous addresses and begged him for souvenirs: locks of hair, signed copies of his works, samples of his handwriting, and even “an occasional place in your lordship’s thoughts.” Yet for all the adoration transmitted by his readership, Lord Byron was ultimately viewed as more consuming than consumed. From the start there was the suggestion of something supernatural about his fame. His friend and early biographer Thomas Moore remarked how it had been oddly instantaneous, forgoing all “the ordinary gradations,” and simply appearing “like the palace of a fairy tale, in a night.”---Andrew McConnell Stott. read more:

The new infrastructure of fame that the Internet has put into place simultaneously creates greater decentralization, wider diffusion, and opportunities for vaster, if shorter-lived, concentration. As one recent example (one that is, unfortunately, likely to be evanescent), Lady Gaga openly set out to claim Madonna’s mantle, though by occupying and operating a fame machine no longer defined primarily by radio or even by MTV. Her expansion and self-multiplication on magazine covers, gossip sites, talk shows, concert arenas, MP3 downloads, remixes, YouTube, and fansites have both asserted and proven that any content or meaning beyond the radio gaga of monstrous or godlike fame is superfluous: existence in the loving lens of the paparazzi trumps any need for essence.

…The contrast between Lady Gaga’s oft-noted ordinary voice and looks and her extraordinary and protean manifestations perfectly suits a system that encourages everyone to build and operate her own fame machine via Facebook, blog, and other addictively maintained personal media. If Martin Luther and Johannes Gutenberg made every man and woman a priest, with Gaga and Facebook every user becomes an icon. We must all now pass through a mobile, multifaceted, and omnipresent fame machine to enter even the modest arenas of friendship, family, and work. And we are coaxed—or indeed compelled—to extend our aura, to transform ourselves into diffused, delocalized entities whose power, size, and value we measure out (from the archaic, nondigital shadows) in hit counters and “followers.” We make ourselves our own cloud of glory, whose contours and impact are obsessively monitored and adjusted by an increasingly vaporous source.Read More:

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2 Responses to Fiction of celebrity: somewhere drunk with passion

  1. Jamie says:

    Your blog is very nice. I like it a lot and subscribe through the rrs feed. Which is why I’m catching up, today. While you make some salient points. I might add, that you are looking at it from the point of view of the”star”. I would say, especially after reading this blog. It speaks more about the personality type of the adore e. Personality as determined by Myer-Briggs. Personality and the demographics, of certain personality types. Out of sixteen types as determined by MBPI, four types make up between sixty and seventy per-cent of population. Which means that the other twelve types, live in a world built for the sixty per-cent. Therefore, any “star” and associated gazing. Is mostly confined to certain personality types. It’s just the way it is …. Other types, adapt and maybe? Some live comfortably in it and share traits with the dominant? I am not any authority on Myer-Briggs. Since learning of it and it helping me to understand myself. I now look at our world with some understanding now, of how it impacts on our society; kinda makes for a seeing is believing scenario.

    • Dave says:

      thanks so much for the comment. very relevant and a very complex issue! I think her trip is much about objectification and the male gaze. I hope to come back to this subject later and will look at myer-Briggs in that context. best.

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