Friday, August 26, 2011

When the Realm of Celebrity Invades Our Political System

Bill Hicks talks about the 1995 movie "To Die For", with Nicole Kidman, which I saw a very long time ago, and views it as being a movie ahead of its time.  In the movie, she plays a woman who is determined to become a TV newscaster at any cost.  As the plot summary says, "what she lacks in intelligence, she makes up for in cold determination and diabolical wiles".  I thought it was a good movie when I saw it, but I'd really like to see it again, for, as Bill says, this can easily describe people like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann. 

The deeper trend here is that in this day, in this nation, it is no longer possible to get fame and fortune for engaging in hard work or coming up with an invention or an idea that is really creative (if it ever was possible to start with).  The only road to riches left is to become famous, being "talked about" on the news, or better, entertainment programs or blogs.  It doesn't matter if you lack talent or engage in questionable moral practices, you just have to get people to notice you.  A favorite example of mine is the right-wing author and talking head Ann Coulter, who you see all the time on television and in the print media.  She often makes these outrageous, totally out there remarks.  And then people take to the blogosphere and talk about how batshit crazy she is, apparently without realizing that they are playing right into her hands.  I don't believe that she even believes half of the shit she says, but it gets a response and a lot of attention, so she keeps riding that gravy train.  

A lot of our programs and print media are devoted to celebrity worship.  I find it funny how the most popular magazines in this area have titles that strongly imply that celebrities are regular people just like us, hence the titles of magazines like "People" and "Us".  Just once, I'd like to see a regular working American, who people can look up, on the cover of those magazines.  Like a doctor, or even better, a real blue-collar guy like a garbageman.  Unfortunately, it probably wouldn't sell.  A large number of people find hard work depressing.

And now, we are seeing this celebrity worship spill over into the world of politics.  Until reading Hicks' column, I did not know that a group of people suggested that Matt Damon run for president.  I'm guessing they got that idea from watching "The Adjustment Bureau", where Damon plays a politician running for Senate.  In any event, the current crop of people taking front and center on our TV screens, like Palin, Bachmann, and a few others, often say uninformed things on a regular basis (like Bachmann saying that the USSR was a military threat) that should be enough to prove that they are terribly unqualified at running a country.  But because they are easy on the eyes and carry that folksy charm, this carries with it some sense of legitimacy.   

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