Welcome to the Idol Age, the age of Demagogualization
Noun: 1: A person, esp, an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people. 2: (in ancient times) a leader of the people”
Yes, I made the above word up by taking demagog and turning it into a verb (what’s that called, btw? Come on english degree holders, let me know). See, it occurs to me that over the past 50 years and the past 25 years or so in particular, we’ve become adept at making people hero’s of the people for no other reason than their celebrity. To me, it really all started with Princess Diana, even tho she might have had justification in being such (i’m not much of a royalist so I dunno for sure). I know we saw the same thing long before her with Marilyn, the Beatles, Elvis, but Diana is where I personally started to see it, being of an age when her and Charles married that I was becoming aware and interested of the world and culture. This isn’t news to anyone, we’ve all seen it.
There are people who become the voice of the masses just from the act of being born likeParis Hilton, marrying someone like any of the Kennedy wives (or husbands I guess) or Kevin Federline, outliving their spouse like Anna Nicole Smith, or Courtney Love, being marginally talented like any of the above or the Olsen twins. We put our hero worship stock into questionable outlets, and then get pissed off when these pedestalized people show their human-ness. The media tells us who our demagogues are and we listen like sheep. It’s the American Idol Age; we manufacture heroes thru a small box in our living room and then systematically destroy them with our love.
Over the past 50 years it’s been shown time and again that not everybody can deal with such adoration and the responsibility that comes with it, and yet we keep doing it. And in the past 10-20 years it’s gone dangerous for the celebrities as well. We’ve seen it with complaints, fights, punched cameramen, embarrasing web postings, high speed chases, and, at it’s ugliest, death. I don’t think that humans (in alot of cases) are naturally equipped to be larger than life for extended periods of time. One’s self-confidence and self awareness level would have to be fairly large to live up to long term exposure to mass adoration and worship. There are a few people who seem to be equipped to do so. But it seems to me that the most “stable” heroes tend to be the ones that keep their personal lives removed from the public lives…and also they all seem to have an ability to reinvent themselves at will and adopt that new public persona without losing their sense of self. But even alot of them went thru periods of self abuse and personal mummification via drugs, alcohol or just disappearing themselves for a while.
Anyways, I have to wonder if this chronic raising of celebrities to status beyond their reach is indicative of some devolution of our society and culture. Are we so desperate for someone to worship that we grab whatever we can? Are our own lives so miserable as a whole that we need to build up and destroy to satisfy some wierd inner desire to make someone fail? I sometimes wonder if maybe we put so much emphasis on fame and visibility that we’ve lost sight of the things we should concentrate on. Or maybe it’s just a human nature thing that’s being exacerbated by the current state of free world “leadership”. I dunno.
Of course, this whole thought process was instigated by the Britney shaving her head incident. So once again Britney has done something a little off the beaten path and her fan base are freaking out. Everyone assumes its a cry for help or a breakdown or drugs or whatever. And it may be. But it may also just be her trying to change fashion or something. Or maybe her giving the finger to the paparazzi and the media and her handlers. Or maybe she found out she’ll need chemotherapy and did a pre-emptive strike. I read one rumour on The Chief’s blog that K-Fed was going to say drug abuse to get the kids, and she shaved it to avoid losing that. Which is, by the way, really pretty assinine, but who knows?It really doesn’t matter to any of us in the end, other than as a curiosity. I admit, I searched out a pic of it, but it really doesn’t affect my life or the quality of such in any way whatsoever.