The heart of the celebrity culture is an individual emptiness gawped at by a collective emptiness
He goes further; "an appalling squandering of human consciousness".
What the hell does he mean by that? It sounds so arrogant, so aloof and doctrinaire, as if we were born to contemplate the meaning of life - and Marshall McLuhan. Is this man mired in a Sixties bubble of strange imaginings, like one who wakes up and finds he is a giant beetle? Doesn't he watch television for God's sake? Doesn't he realise that Shakespeare is merely a collection of cliches? He alludes to Victoria Beckham and Madonna. In 100 years time they will be beatified.
Ok, ok, I was being facetious. But he did not mention Anton de Beke, the preposterous puffball who scandalised us by a. being instantly famous, and b. not quite being without sin. De Beke (or plain Tony Beak, his real name) for me is the current paradigm, but I forgive Mr Tallis for not being in the loop on that one. You see, that is the problem; the rift between his world and the ephemeral world of celebrity. It moves on too quickly, far too quickly for an individual to subject themselves to academic rigour or sustained inspection. Clever that, but as a concept, it can be.
Celebrity is not new, Mr Tallis says, hence his Nightingale reference. He cites the cult surrounding Florence Nightingale, but you could just as easily insert, Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron or Dr Johnson. The difference is, of course, that all these people had talent. The celebrities of today merely emulate, often awkwardly, like a kid in a talent show pretending to sing a torch song, the mores. the posture of fame.
This, I think, is where simulacra comes in, and particularly the role of television. As Marshall McLuhan said, "All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values" It has now been established beyond doubt that TV does indeed rot brains and rewire them to facilitate uncritical acceptance of what effectively is emptyness. Years ago on this blog I dredged up the research. http://wrinkledweasel.blogspot.com/2007/01/quote-of-week.html
This piece of academic research includes:
In contrast to the way real life unfolds and is experienced by young children, the pace of TV is greatly sped up." says Christakis. His research appears in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics. Quick scene shifts of video images become "normal," to a baby "when in fact, it’s decidedly not normal or natural." Christakis says. Exposing a baby’s developing brain to videos may overstimulate it, causing permanent changes in developing neural pathways.
By the time the youth of today have grown up, they have already been trained in the art of the fake, of accepting a copy of a copy as real - the quintessence of celebrity. Why then, are they so desperate to join in, to become "famous?" Because it has become their God. Because they have bonded, not with reality, not with the tactile, not with conflict or smell or dimension or an immovable object, but with a machine which creates infinitely the appearance of things, not as they are, but as we wish them to be.