Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Celebritisation - Glorifying criminals

The cult of celebrity is a sickening thing, particularly when the objects of so much attention and even adoration receive it because they are, or associate with, criminals and murderers.

Celebrity is foolish enough when you are famous for just being famous, or related to someone who is famous. Being famous because you are a murderer or the wife of a murderer surely is not something to be proud of?

Recently there's been a push for the celebritisation* of criminals in/of the Melbourne gangland scene. I don't understand the "charm" of someone tied up with murder suddenly being famous for that single reason.
The media is blamed for turning these gangland players into minor celebrities, especially the tabloid current affairs shows, which have waved wads of cash in exchange for interviews. Critics say the interviews are soft and that prior misdeeds are airbrushed in a celebration of celebrity. Yet these interviews have also delivered huge ratings to the networks, suggesting that ordinary Australians can’t get enough of the gangland story.

Yes, they may be humorous, they may be charming, have style and finesse, but should these people really be elevated in society?

I tend to agree with this:

Some theorists, critical of the kinds of values represented by celebrity in recent years, hold that celebrity represents a cultural decline, a lapse from an earlier age when fame had a scarcity value (Boorstin, 1961; Walker, 1970; Schickel, 1985; Gitlin, 1998; Postman, 1985; South, 2000). According to Daniel Boorstin (1961), for example, the category of celebrity has widened so much that fame is not an attribution that reflects any real achievement or skill, but rather the success expressed in celebrity is ‘success without the requisite association with work’ (Marshall, 1997, p.ix). Nowadays, he argues, public recognition is valued for its own sake. Boorstin assumes that at some point in the past fame was legendary and noble, a referential yardstick for virtuous deeds, integrity or honour. It embodied nobler and higher values, such as great thoughts and ideals or services for the higher good. For Boorstin, today’s celebrities suffer from narcissistic self-obsession. They stand for a culture where instant gratification is preferred over more long-term rewards and where surface image is valued more than the substance underneath (Postman, 1985; South, 2000).
Read more here:
Evans, J. (2005) Celebrity, media and history, McGraw-Hill, 13 p.

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