Posted by LambChop
The real danger of the American celebrity-obsessed culture is not the constant bombardment of images, interviews and opinions of talentless celebrity hacks, but it is the universal belief by both the hack and their fans who believe that their opinions are actually relevant. Simply put, fame somehow equals validity.
Housed in their glittering cocoons (think Lady Gaga delivered to the Grammy’s in 2011 in her golden egg litter) completely disconnected from the ordinary life of the working chumps, celebrities revel in sameness characterized by a liberal “group -think” that is constantly validated by their peers.
These are the same people who claim to be “in touch with the needs” of average Americans because they have masqueraded as ordinary Americans in some of their movie roles. It is not much of a stretch to conclude that celebrities, surrounded by legions on “fanbois” and “yes men,” begin to take themselves and their causes seriously. For example, Scarlett Johansson sold her used Kleenex on Ebay for $5,300 and donated the proceeds to charity (USA Harvest). She appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and reveled in self-congratulatory pride at the “good” deed. Of course, to be fair, if your used Kleenex commanded $5,300 at auction perhaps you too would struggle with the narcissistic self-importance that only comes from people being lauded and paid too much for doing too little.
Therefore we can’t be surprised when celebrities, desperately searching for meaning in their lives, aspire to higher vocations, both to enlighten us with their wisdom and force us to follow their clever life paths. The trouble is that these new celebrities are hardly America’s best or brightest - they are typically not credentialed or educated.
Of course their fans’ worship has more than one component – for some it is an exaggerated sense schadenfreude, hoping to make themselves feel better following the missteps and tribulations of the lives of the rich and famous. For others, it is the vicarious fantasy of money, wealth, attractiveness and the power that comes from the trappings of celebrity status.
With the onset of reality television and social media, America’s narcissism is at an all-time high. The new celebrity cultural reality is reflected in politics. Arnold Schwarzenegger channeled his film career into a political one, Clint Eastwood served as Mayor of Carmel, Jesse Ventura was Governor and 1950’s leading man Ronald Reagan achieved our nation’s highest office.
The problem is that with the modern celebrity, celebrity status in of itself is THE main qualification. Reagan was berated and distrusted because of his Hollywood career - his qualifications were picked apart, his life was vetted and his writings examined. By the late 1990’s Jesse “The Body” Ventura, an actor and WWF wrestler, under the false pretext of being a former Navy SEAL, was elected Governor of Minnesota with very little substantive vetting.
The public’s schizophrenia when it comes to the mixing of politics and celebrity is apparent. New York Representative Anthony Weiner was forced to resign in 2011 after a sexting scandal – sending inappropriate photos of himself to young women, and in a similar scandal that same year, married Congressman Chris Lee (also from New York) resigned after a shirtless photo of him turned up on a Craigslist dating ad. Governor Schwarzenegger known for his extra-marital affairs was given a hall pass year after year by the media and the adoring public who fawned over his celebrity status and marriage to the Kennedy dynasty’s golden girl, Maria Shriver.
Warhol’s prediction, “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,” has not only come true, but has become America’s dominant ethos. Celebutante Kim Kardashian is reportedly paid $18 million a year for cameras to follow her around as she shops, goes to dinner and gets spray-tanned in her shower, and yet she cannot sing, dance or act. It should be no surprise that she would want to turn her hum drum celebrity life into a political career declaring, "I decided I'm going to run for the mayor of Glendale," choosing to run for office in Glendale "because it's, like, Armenian town." The celebrity class just can’t seem resist becoming one of “them”- the political class.
At the same time, the political class has run amuck, transforming the once shining city on a hill to a Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome epic battle between the haves and the have nots while America has literally gone broke. Why not have celebrities as legislators, governors and presidents? Could they possibly do a worse job?
Fox News reported today that an unnamed “insider” source said that ofttimes naked starlet Ashley Judd is moving forward with a Senate run against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Judd lacks any reasonable qualifications or credibility other than a celebrity status. "At least in Ashley's mind, it is happening," said the insider. "She has devoted herself to many important causes and stepped away from the Hollywood spotlight so this seems like the logical next step. I don't know if she will be successful, but her heart is in the right place."
Judd’s political leanings are left, and her focus seems to be on the plight of women. Her psychobabble platform issues are a blend of Oprah’s dianetics, a new brand of feminism that focuses on personal freedom (code for abortion) and a bizarre belief that coal mining constitutes rape. Of course the rape does not stop there. Hip hop lyrics cause rape. Congolese women are apparently raped because of the manufacture of electronics. Rape is everywhere according to Judd.
Never mind that Judd went to school at some point in Kentucky but was born in California and has lived in Tennessee since 1993. Now she wants to be the next Senator from Kentucky. Of course given the fact the Kentucky relies on the $ 4 billion per annum it receives from the “raping” coal industry – state-wide public perception could be a problem for Judd’s candidacy. Kentucky was the third highest coal producer in the United States during 2011, and coal mining was by far the largest source of energy production in the Commonwealth, employing more than 19,000 individuals.
Judd has done some due diligence to prepare for her run. She has remained visible, serving on boards and leadership councils of political issues. She has dutifully trashed Sarah Palin over wolf hunting. She augmented her bachelor’s degree in French (she was on the 17 year plan) from the University of Kentucky by adding a master’s degree in public administration (a 1 year-long program) from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Of course the burning question remains, will her penchant for partial and full frontal nudity in at least half a dozen of her movie roles hurt her chances to “be taken seriously”? Her reported dalliances with Michael Bolton, Matthew McConaughey and a rumored fling with Robert DeNiro? No, most likely it’s her inane utterings that will get her into trouble:
"Watching 'The Impossible' & have stopped trying not to cry-giving in & going full snot slinging
"I so support midwifery!!"
"My bee gives may have up to 1,000 pounds of honey this year. What should I do with it?"
"Hmmm. Does one use the front door at the White House?"
“Intentionally misleading customers is perfectly legal,& it’s happening throughout supermarket aisles near you.”
"My mat is a safe place."
"I think that being perceptive and having interests is nothing but an asset."
"More often than what you're suggesting, I find people are surprised that I have an urban side to me."
"It's unconscionable to breed, w/ the number of children who are starving to death in impoverished countries"
“Christianity legitimizes male power over women."
So while the average city-dwelling American dutifully treads through the day, encountering hazards in the desolate urbanscape destined to become something out of the Book of Eli the cult of the washed up celeb- turned- politician is in full swing. Washed up Celebs have SO MANY other options today: Trump’s show The Apprentice, Dancing with the Stars, Oprah’s Next Chapter, TV reality TV shows like Celebrity Wife Swap, Ambassador to North Korea (or Venezuela) and in Ashley’s case, running for U.S. Senate.
"The development of an over-obsessive interest in sport and celebrity was one of the factors in the collapse of the greatest civilization ever known to man." The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon