Many of my friends believe I hate celebrities. I don’t; I just think most of them are assholes. Actually, I don’t even have a philosophical problem with the cult of celebrity. Like it or not, it’s a serious part of our social structure and always has been. For example, in the 1840s, the pianist, Franz Liszt, was mobbed wherever he went. People fainted at his concerts, and fans fought over bits of his clothing. Heinrich Heine called the phenom ” Lizstomania.” (Sound familiar?) My point is we worship celebrities ’cause it’s fun. It’s sexy. It’s a chance to dance with the kind of charisma that’s normally just doesn’t occur in our day-to-day lives.
The problem is a lot of contemporary celebrities have come to believe they’re not just the latest dog-and-pony show. They actually think they’re special and have amazing insights — not only into the world’s problems, but the solutions, as well. Unfortunately, the ability to memorize dialogue, cry on cue and strum a guitar are not the skills we need to tackle our many political, spiritual, medical and economic problems. However, even though these self-diagnosed messiahs haven’t got a clue, they do have a very big pulpit to preach from — the media — and they absolutely refuse to shut up.
I’m not saying that musicians, actors, comedians, Reality TV stars, etc. shouldn’t have opinions, I’m just saying here’s some tough truth:
When your idea of roughing it is room service is late, you really can’t speak with any authority about the soul-eating poverty of sub-Saharan Africa.
Two years of drama school doesn’t mean you’re competent to dispense medical advice. This includes health tips, nutrition, “jade eggs,” cures for cancer, what causes autism and who should or should not get vaccinated — among other things.
People who travel in private jets and personal limousines to parties in Ibiza, movie premieres in Los Angeles and Broadway shows in New York — all in the same week — have no business telling the rest of us we shouldn’t carry our pork ‘n beans home from the grocery store in a plastic bag. Who’s ruining the environment for whom, here?
If you own four (five?) palatial mansions on two continents, you’ve got a lot of cojones yipping about how we’re not doing enough for refugees. It looks to me as if you’ve got a few empty bedrooms there, George. How about a couple of those Syrian families bunking in with you?
When a guy who’s constantly spouting off about corporate greed takes a gig as the “What’s it your wallet?” shill for one of the richest banks in America, he’s either a total hypocrite or a total whore. (There’s no third choice on this one.) And, with those kind of credentials, his off-the-wall ideas about the world’s economy are totally suspect.
And this just goes on and on and on.
Okay! Celebrities are cool. But they’re offering half-baked, simplistic, Instagram solutions to complex problems they don’t even understand. And the reality is this crap is muddying the water so badly it’s actually become part of the problem.
So, as the man said, “Shut up and sing.”