Friday, December 24, 2010

Disposable Celebrities

Earlier tonight on the radio, I heard news that there was a rumor of a second Paris Hilton sex tape. This rumor, upon returning home, I found to have been squashed and a lawsuit threatened.

Let us review.

Someone heard that there MIGHT be a sex tape floating around with Paris Hilton- and not the first sex tape, either- and this is news to someone. Someone cares enough that there might be a second Paris Hilton sex tape that someone else took the time to report a rumor about it as news. Someone thought enough of it to present updates on it. And here I am wasting my time bringing it up at all.

Why am I bringing it up? Because this has been eating at me a bit. Paris is a prime example of a disposable celebrity.

Now, celebrities are all well and good. It's only natural that some people will be more recognized than others for whatever reason. Here's the thing, though. My home of Watertown is and has been very blue-collar. A blue-collar background instills a bit of a work ethic in you, and you tend to expect others to follow suit. If someone wishes to be a celebrity, well and good. But I want to see them do some work to gain or maintain that celebrity status.

Can you act (e.g. Eva Longoria)? Great. Can you sing (e.g. Lady Gaga)? Great. Can you dance (e.g Carrie Ann Inaba)? Great, though we don't have very many pure dancers in the celebrity universe right now. Can you do more than one of the previous (e.g. the cast of Glee)? Great. Are you an athlete, or are you otherwise involved in the athletic world (e.g. Bruce Jenner, decathlon gold medalist in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, who I really don't wish to drag into this mess)? Great. Do you create or try to affect the creation of policy (e.g. Sarah Palin)? Great.

Do you go about living your life as normal while cameras follow you around (e.g the cast of Jersey Shore)? We've got problems now. Does your fame revolve around mating: attracting a mate (Heidi Montag), selecting a mate (anyone from The Bachelor/ette), deselecting a mate (ditto), mating with your mate (Kim Kardashian), reproducing with your mate (the Duggars)? We've got problems. Have you been on a competitive reality show (e.g. Survivor)? Unless you are still actively on that show, or have done additional things to work for your fame (e.g. Kelly Clarkson), we've got problems. Is your primary identifier "socialite" (the rest of the Kardashians)? We've got problems. Are you only famous because another family member is famous (e.g. Bristol Palin)? We've got problems.

And this is really rather damaging: again, there will always be celebrities; there will always be some amount of time devoted by people to celebrities. That's one thing. But every second spent following a disposable celebrity is time taken away from someone that might be more deserving of that fame; someone who has actually done something to earn it. Time spent on someone who was on The Bachelor/ette three seasons ago and hasn't done anything since is time that could go to any number of people of actual talent or consequence that could use the boost- actors, singers, authors, those in positions of power who might need a little extra scrutiny. Or maybe other deserving people we don't normally think of as famous who might, given a couple extra free cameras roaming around, get a little moment in the sun. Like this guy.

Who exactly qualifies as 'disposable'? Which celebrities do we need to excise from our national consciousness? You've probably gotten to this part of the article already having come up with at least ten different names, all of which are people you deem annoying. Justin Bieber's on your list, right?

Bad news on that. Bieber sings. He works for his fame. Nobody said you personally had to like his music. Enough people do to where he is famous. The celebrities that need disposing of can be figured like so:

Imagine that the entire celebrity-gossip industry vanished overnight. US Weekly, InStyle, People, TMZ, Lucky, Star, the tabloids all gone. Perez Hilton is taken back to Joan Rivers' home planet. Every camera owned by a member of the paparazzi bursts into flames and they all have to go get real jobs. All of that is gone tomorrow. As a result, all the coverage that any celebrity receives in this fashion vanishes along with it.

Who's still famous outside of that which they directly control?

Anyone currently famous that suddenly sees the attention paid to them drop to virtually zero is a disposable celebrity. They are only celebrities because the entertainment industry says they are. Celebrities of merit have other outlets through which they can receive their coverage. Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber can make songs. The English royal family may be a figurehead, but the head of household still gets to be on a bunch of countries' money.

Paris Hilton, without the entertainment industry, drops off the face of the Earth.

Nothing tomorrow. Enjoy your Christmas.

EDIT: 'This Guy', Michael Sharpe of Spruce Grove, Alberta, originally didn't have a link. My bad. Boy, that's... a bit embarrassing, particularly given the subject matter. Sorry about that, Michael.

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