George Monbiot is my first key source. Writing in 'The Guardian' just before Christmas (21.12.2016), his piece is headlined: 'Celebrity is the smiling face of the corporate machine'. I think the case he advances is powerful and telling - and the statistics he uses are for me so alarming.
An attachment to celebrity has become the dominant value among little children in the US. A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology reveals that an extraordinary shift appears to have taken place between 1997 and 2007 in the US. In 1997, the dominant values (as judged by an adult audience) expressed by the shows most popular among nine-to 11 year olds were community feeling, followed by benevolence. Fame came 15th out of the 16 values tested. Watch American films now on daytime TV here in the UK and you'll get a flavour of what that means - the 'feel-good' triumph of decency over adversity with the shared values of families in small town communities in the end winning out. Mythic tales but in their own way ennobling and with a long pedigree taking in James Stewart's portrayal of courage in adversity (with some angelic assistance) in Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946) and going, I suspect, right back to the very origin of the film medium. But by 2007, fame had shot to the no.1 position, followed by achievement, image, popularity and financial success. Community feeling had fallen to 11th, benevolence to 12th.
|Kim Kardashian - 'Reality' TV star|
Monbiot cites a paper in the International Journal of Cultural Studies (IJCS) which found that among the people it surveyed in the UK those who follow celebrity gossip most closely are three times less likely than people interested in other forms of news to be involved in local organisations and half as likely to volunteer.
A recent survey of 16-year-olds in the UK indicated that 54% of them intended to become celebrities.
As they say, at the end of the day, it's not rocket science. Follow the yellow-brick Ofsted-ed road to Uni and saddle yourself with a lifetime of debt - and for what material gain? Or become a celebrity.
Monbiot points out that after watching and listening to interviews with celebrities you can work out that the principal qualities now sought in a celebrity are 'vapidity, vacuity and physical beauty'. An