Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obsessing about nothing.

Disclaimer: another rant on the way!

This post is inspired by a recent news story (be it true or false), that one Kim Kardashian is reportedly enjoying a paycheck of a staggering $10,000 per tweet. There apparently is an ad agency called Ad.Ly (but of course there is) specializing in paying hefty sums to celebrities, who in exchange mention brand names and products such as NestlĂ© in their tweets. According to the story, people such as VH1’s Dr Drew, star DJ Samantha Ronson and The Hills’ Lauren Conrad are some of the recipients.

That has got to be the most outrageous way to throw away money I’ve ever heard – the absolute pinnacle of idiocy. If this isn’t one sign that this world is soon meeting its demise in an apocalypse of biblical proportions, I don’t know what is.

Let’s just recap: Kim Kardashian is a young woman, whose only claim to fame comes from exactly two things: a kinky sex tape with the rapper Ray J, and her buxom backside. She’s already a brand in itself, like Paris Hilton (the pioneer), without having any particular talent. She’s someone, who has literally made a career (and a substantial living along the way) out of promoting this brand by just appearing in every event and gala imaginable. These days, she is such an attention magnet, that she is reportedly earning a cool $50,000 for just appearing at a party in Vegas.

As a phenomenon, is this obsessing-about-nothing or famous-for-being-famous culture unique to this time, or has it existed before? There have been fame seekers, people vying for that elusive 15 minutes of fame in all modern times, but surely not to this extent? In my native Finland there’s even an annual poll of ”the most worthless celebrities of the year”.

Whether it’s the Kardashians or the spoiled brats of The Hills (who by the way earn around $100,000 per a single episode, for ”living their lives”, when even all the childish drama is written by MTV screenwriters) – it’s not hard to understand their motivation, especially taking into consideration the amount of money that’s at their grasp. What I don’t understand is the media’s and the regular people’s relentless desire to keep on obsessing about these starlets, keep on buying their merchandise and so on.

Is it an unevitable fact that if these people’s ”lives” (As we all know, as a term, heavily scripted reality TV is a paradox in itself) are forced down your throat long enough, [these celeb wannabes] eventually will be crowned as worthy of all that adulation? And that this in turn opens them career opportunities such as becoming a singer or a ”fashion designer” (as in the case of Lauren Conrad), without any qualifications other than their celebrity status?

I think what’s unique to the whole reality TV culture, is that now, entire careers are built out of that 15 minutes, often based on quite dubious merits in the first place. For children and teens growing up in these times, ”a celebrity” – and especially in the sense of being famous for no particular talent whatsoever – has become a profession, a reachable goal, something to pursue no matter what it takes. In fact, forget celebrity – ”reality star” is apparently an apt profession in itself, as witnessed hilariously on such starlets who appear on Celeb Rehab With Dr Drew. I think ”American Idol finalist” would be pushing the term ”celebrity” a bit anyway.

In the early days of Twitter mania – which seems like ages ago, even though it reached its mass popularity just this past year, didn’t it – the media was keen to follow which account would be the first to have a million followers. That particular rivalry was fought between…Aston Kutcher and CNN. That’s right, that kid from Punk’d and the world’s biggest news provider. Eventually, and not that surprisingly really, CNN famously lost the race. In essence, people care more about a celebrity’s carefree life and the meaningless drivel that are common Twitter updates, than the news. These days, it isn’t uncommon for public figures such as that great philosopher, Shaquille O'Neal, to have millions upon millions of followers.

Maybe I’m just cynical. I can hear someone saying, it’s just entertainment. Fluff, to take your mind off the burden that is modern living.