For much of recorded history most of the world had what we have came to call an aristocracy, that is to say a group of people with an exaggerated amount of money and influence raised to believe in their own marked superiority over the rest of the human race. They were a great deal of fun, and their marvelous antics served to entertain most of the rest of the population, whose lot in life consisted largely of rooting in manure and dying of old age at 30. For some reason however our dear forefathers chose not only to allow the nobility to play the role of national fool but also granted them actual political power, a move which, while it has a certain pleasant aesthetic symmetry, was an extraordinarily bad idea and led to lots of things like the French Revolution which were not super awesome. But after doing away with hereditary nobility and replacing it with a system based upon granting political power to the best liar, we discovered that while our new governments were slightly more effective, they were far less entertaining. Thus was born the celebrity; that individual for whom society has granted the ability to indulge every tiny whim, with the sole condition being that they use said gift to completely destroy their lives in a fashion which provides diversion for the rest of us.
I like celebrities. I like their foibles, their absurdities, their made-up religions. I appreciate their willingness to sacrifice themselves, on our behalf, to the gods Crassness and Opulence, two divinities which long ago overthrew Hard Work and Modesty to dominate the American pantheon. I even have a certain amount of sympathy for celebrities. They seem blissfully unaware of the Faustian bargain they have made. They believe, strangely and erroneously, that society likes them and is wishing them well, when in fact we’re only building them up so that their fall is that much more terrible.
And the fall always comes. The fall, really is what we are waiting for. I imagine that there are likely some people in the world who join celebrity fan clubs and aren’t joking when they say they think Baby Suri is beautiful, the way that there were likely Frenchman in the 18th century who thought Marie Antoinette was nice. But I suspect most of us are only sticking around for the thunk of the guillotine, as it were.
And like the dear Dauphine, celebrities are terribly unprepared for their inevitable crash. As there is no real reason that any of these individuals ascended to the upper echelons of celebrity, there is equally no reason for their descent. We simply get tired of them, a fact which, I imagine, is extraordinarily difficult for a former celebrity to accept. In most professions, one understands what is necessary to succeed and can recognize when they are no longer performing adequately. But when you have had accolades heaped upon you for the most basic activities (walking down the street, eating, not defecating in inappropriate places etc.), you likely are not only unable to handle your loss of fame but unclear as to why it is even happening. “I’m still walking down the street” you think to yourself. “I’m still pooping in the toilet. What happened? Where did everyone go?” Somewhere Corey Haim is reading this and nodding his head.
So thank you, Tom Cruise, for gaining thirty pounds and subscribing to a religion which makes fundamentalist Islam look palatable by comparison. Thank you, Britney Spears, for diving head-first into Lake White Trash with a forcefulness and aplomb unseen since Jerry Lee Lewis married his thirteen year old cousin. Thank you Lindsay Lohan for going from up-and-coming comedic talent to coked-out whore in less time than it takes most people to clean out the basement. And thank you Paris Hilton for… G-d, for so much. Thank you Paris Hilton for being Paris Hilton. To all of you whose public disintegration in 2006 provided endless hours of amusement for us normal folks, we the grateful beneficiaries of your madness salute you. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!