Dismantling Celebrity Culture

“At some point in the very near future we are going to have to change our value system so dramatically, and what we deem as important and what we throw away,”

“We need to dismantle very significant parts of our culture and really re-examine them. I suppose you start with the celebrity thing.”Damon Albarn

“It’s creating a mindset that suggests you can get something for nothing and that it’s easy to acquire status and fame…It should be one of the hardest things to do,”

Damon Albarn, musician and former member of Blur ,cartoon group Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen (project) on dismantling celebrity culture after being guest editor on Radio 4’s Today programme.

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6 thoughts on “Dismantling Celebrity Culture

  1. Yes, this is true. It is alarming how much things have changed over the past 20 years (makes me sound like my granny!) and it is difficult sometimes to understand how and why. I suppose in the “old” days in general people did only attain celebrity status by doing something special or having a particular talent and in general it took them a while. But what do we do to turn the tide? We can hardly get rid of all forms of the media or stop producing programmes, like X Factor, that people seem desperate to watch. I have to say that i do rather wonder about people who let their children watch these things but that’s just me. I guess if there is a demand for celebrities of this type and people want to fill the role, then why not? Why shouldn’t people do it? But it is certainly true that I find the celebrity and throw-away culture, when I am confronted with it (and I do my best to hide from it), a rather depressing place to be.

    The thing that amazes me about it all is that anyone in their right mind would actually want to achieve fame and celebrity status. I can see the appeal to a degree of having oodles of cash, but not being followed everywhere by the paparazzi and having details of my private life broadcast to all and sundry. I am sure that it is a fame most people would soon tire of. To me, quiet anonymity is better even if it means living off water and dried crusts! But maybe if I lived in a highrise on a rundown estate in some desperate part of the country, where my children could not get a place in a decent school, I might feel rather differently about it all. There might not appear to be any other reasonable escape route.

  2. Hi RB- I’m certainly with you on the anonymity. I can’t say I’ve ever wished for personal fame (I’m a very private person). I can understand the escape route thing but it doesn’t say much for the social mobility potential in our society does it? (talent is un- rewarded whilst self obsession is?) Mr Albarn did also mention wanting to get rid of around 99% of the media (though obviously he’s to some extent a by product of putting pop stars on pedestals but his opinion is as valid as anybody else’s, just his is more likely to get media coverage) which does sound a bit extreme in its idealism. I think we can stop making X Factor and the like or at least take the exploitation and sneer element out of it. Clearly Big Brother is changing tack after the whole racism row which seems to have had a domino effect on television and current media values in general.
    Bizarrely after reading Damon’s musings I then (uncharacteristically) watched the last episode of Extras and Ricky Gervais of all people managed to deliver the best polemic against celebrity culture I’d heard in quite a while:

  3. That is rather good. You know what? I once watched an episode of The Office and thought it was a documentary. I wonder what I would think if I watched an episode (not the right word is it?) of X Factor? I should try it some day. I always feel rather embarrassed to confess in public that I do not watch such things – so many people do – I almost feel like I am a member of some weird minority sect or something.
    Thanks for your comment by the way. I will reply to it tomorrow. Too tired now to make any sense! Well, too tired and too sad! I don’t think the “celebrities” on Big Brother are the only ones who need to get a life. I sometimes wonder about Blogging and if really it is not just doing the same thing? Why do I write stuff really? Ooops – I am not listening to your advice am I? I must shut up and go to bed!

  4. I must equally be ‘odd’ in that I’ve never watched an episode of the office. I’ve seen the famous bits but when it came out I decided it was too close to real life to watch so I’m probably not suited to ‘cringe comedy’.I can’t pretend that I haven’t watched reality TV but Big Brother in particular I can’t watch any more and X Factor is so staged it’s not funny. I don’t begrudge entertainment on TV but I do think some of these progs encourage a certain behaviour in our society that may not be for the greater good so as Gervais’ character says they can’t wash their hands entirely of responsibility.
    As for blogging and t’Internet. It’s not a replacement for a life (though heaven knows it has the potential to become a distraction to one and a virtual retreat for many lost in the ‘real world’) but in our increasingly disconnected society it is another tool of communication and like most things should be useful in moderation (if it’s a choice between TV and Internet I’ll choose the latter). The whole medium still fascinates and motivates me (overstatement alert) so for me it’s a beneficial trade-off.

  5. No, me neither I don’t begrudge entertainment TV either and sometimes it is nice just to switch off in front of the screen. I usually fall asleep!
    You are right of course about the Internet. I just feel swamped out at the moment – I need a lot of personal space and there is none to be had here in Real Life right now. At least the Internet feels peaceful and is somewhere i can think (well, waffle!!). And yes, I would always choose the internet over TV.
    Right, must get some lunch before the troops start eating the furniture (or each other!).
    I left you a technical (well, as technical as I get!) question in my comment box. No obligation to answer it but I think you rather like such things so it might amuse you to enlighten me.
    And thanks!

  6. It’s amazing how many semi-talented people become mega-celebrities because of their connections.

    This leads me to believe that the main function of celebrity culture is to make the vast majority of people feel like they’re only of value when they’re at the office preparing Excel spread sheets for a bank.

    In other words, by removing the great masses of humanity from cultural production and recreation, commercial culture keeps everyone’s nose on the grindstone.

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