Thursday, August 19, 2021

Quote of the Day (Margo Howard, on the Devaluation of Celebrity)

“Along with the dollar, we've experienced a regrettable devaluation of celebrity. Anyone over 30 cannot help but wonder: What the hell happened? The news-ingesting public is bombarded with fake news of the faux famous, but...who are these people? Did the mainstream media purposely dumb things down to offer us the current surplus of celebridreck? This is a chicken-and-egg debate, to be sure, trying to figure out how a bunch of anorexic, addled, addicted nobodies morphed into household names. Did the press lead us down this loony path, thinking it profitable, or did the paying customers make known their yen for drivel? Could people be so depressed by national and personal problems that they get a media-delivered serotonin fix by keeping tabs on people who think going to parties is a job? Might celebridreck be taking the place soap operas used to occupy as diversions from dull lives—but with real people?”— American writer and former advice columnist Margo Howard, “Cambridge Diarist: Celebridreck,” The New Republic, Dec. 18, 2006

When Ms. Howard—daughter of Ann Landers and ex-wife of actor Ken Howard—wrote her screed about “the current surplus of celebridreck,” she was reacting to Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and—God help us—Flavor Flav. In the decade and a half since, the proliferation of social media has given birth to countless “influencers.” Is this really a cultural improvement?

(The image accompanying this post, of Jessica Simpson, was taken June 22, 2008, by John VanderHaagen from Grand Rapids, MI.)

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