The Thinking Man's Take On: Celebrity Spectacles

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"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." - Andy Warhol

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." - Andy Warhol

Did you see Amy Winehouse on YouTube?OMG, she was all, “warble warble gibberish” and then the crowd was all “AMY! AMY! AMY!” and then she was all staggering around stage and showing too much skin and bumping into the microphone.That girl has a problem, man, somebody should get her some help.But first you should watch the video.

SHE’S A HUMAN! (ah! ooh!) What you don’t realize is that [Amy] is making you all this money and all you do is write a bunch of crap about her.

LEAVE HER ALONE! You are lucky she even performed for you BASTARDS!
LEAVE [AMY] ALONE!…..Please.(credit due here)

Seriously, though, here’s my question:where’s the line between performer and spectacle?When do we stop watching someone while hoping for an amazing performance and instead start watching someone while hoping for some sort of breakdown?

In light of the most recent celebrity/internet fiascos, I believe the question is, Do we force celebrities to bare it all in the hopes of publicity, or do they do it on their own out of boredom and sheer because-I-can-ism?

It’s a modern day chicken and egg.

We’ve all seen them – we watched Jessica and Nick’s marriage crumble in real-time, we read about Kanye arguing with photogs or getting all emo because people don’t like his jams, we’ve watched an unbelievable number of hours of celebrities embarrassing themselves on YouTube.These celebrities have thrust themselves into the spotlight, and continue to edge their way further and further into the center of that spotlight until they get the lights all up in their eyes and they can’t see the crowd and they get disoriented and don’t know who’s where and what’s what and where they are or what they’re doing.When they’re in that place, and everyone can’t help but look at them, it’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion.And when they’re in that place, that’s when they start holding babies off balconies and naming their kids Blanket and showing up to gigs so coked out of their minds they’re not even sure they’re supposed to be singing.

Why is it that the reserved, private artists are the most respectable?

Take Burial, for example.In a 2007 interview with The Guardian he said, “Only about five people outside of my family know I make tunes, I think. I hope.”And then in 2008 The Independent published an article revealing his identity.In response, on his blog, he reiterated his thoughts, saying, “I’m a lowkey person and I just want to make some tunes, nothing else.”LEAVE [BURIAL] ALONE.

So did the spotlight grabbers grab the spotlight by drawing attention to their antics?Or did someone switch on that light and say “Dance, monkey, dance”.Which came first, the spectators or the spectacles?

Man, people had it a lot easier back in the day.People stole pies off window sills instead of beemers out of parking garages.Elvis swiveled his hips a couple times and people decried him as the anti-Christ.Today, Cassie’s crotch is all over the internet and people will probably forget about it by the time June rolls around.

I guess a lot of what I’m musing about here boils down to access.We live in an age where we can find out – should the artist choose to tell us – what musicians had for breakfast.We know where they are, what they’re doing, and how they feel about it all.So it’s not our fault, is it?

Well, it is, obvi.We’re terrible people.But only sorta.Because we’re just watching.

Chris Barth writes a weekly Thinking Man feature here at Pretty Much Amazing. You can read his more succinct daily entries at his blog, The Stu Reid Experiment.

photo by village9991