March 8, 2012

Let Us Now Praise Famous Louts

CUNY professor and Bruce Springsteen biographer Marc Dolan traces the evolution of the American celebrity.

Max Lakin

Stars! They’re just like us. They attend Oscar parties in bespoke couture, and we watch them on television wearing ill-fitting sweats and running TurboTax in the background. Sure, we may not be traipsing off to Gstaad this weekend, but on Monday we can read about who did, immersing our pulpy brains into a warm lather of good feeling. Your sister passed the bar? Fine. Snooki, maybe, is eating for two—she’s been seen in loose clothing, you know? Great god of progress, fire up the Twitter clients.

Asking why we care about the comings-and-goings (and comings) of overexposed personalities we won’t meet and who will never know us returns you the full complement of psychoanalytic troubleshooting: vicarious escape from our own pained existence (living is hard, why not watch Charlie Sheen do it for you?); evolutionary note-taking (observe how the famous and desirable achieve fame and court desire, adjust buying habits accordingly); parasocial relationships (boy, I hope Lindsay comes out of today’s court appearance OK); and, of course, schadenfreude (living is hard, why not watch Charlie Sheen fail at it for you?).

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Article by Max Lakin

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