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Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Is that what being a celebrity means?"

While recently watching Inside Deep Throat with the directors' commentary on, a comment was made that made me really think. One of the directors commented something along the lines that Paris Hilton is the modern day equivalent of Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace. It took me a few minutes to understand, but lights turned on in my head once I realized it.

The Cliff Notes' backstory: While 1972's Deep Throat was rated X, it was one of the first movies to be shown in mainstream movie theaters. Given all the controversy with it being banned in 23 states and under investigation by the US government, the film would reportedly gross hundreds of millions of dollars (though its figure is still largely debated). Another result was that the film's star, Linda Lovelace, found herself in the celebrity spotlight.

Though she would denounce her role in later years, Lovelace played along with the fame game in the '70s. She made the most of being a mainstream celebrity coming from a non-mainstream field. At the time, this was a major blurring of the lines of celebrity. The traditional channels of fame were set aside as Lovelace was frequently featured and quoted in the news and on TV. Seeing all the press on people like Anna Nicole Smith, Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton these days, I can't help but think that Linda Lovelace was a trailblazer. However, this isn't the kind of trailblazer that I look up to.

Blame the publicists/agents and other PR folk, but even people who act stupid can make other people interested. Call it info-tainment, but it's often mixed in with traditional news, thus blurring the lines even more. Whether it's Anna Nicole Smith acting drunk at an award show, Jessica Simpson saying something stupid or Paris Hilton's wild party antics, when it's printed in the mainstream media, somebody somewhere seems to care. Speaking for myself as somebody somewhere: I don't care.

While I find humor in certain stupid things (ie, cheesy action flicks), I don't understand people acting stupid to get attention. Do I feel any better about myself when I hear Paris Hilton say something stupid? Nope, I just feel indifferent. I know someone somewhere feels better about his/her life as he/she vicariously lives through other people's stupidity.

I'm not against stupidity across the board, but the attachment I see makes me sick. How these people seemingly become famous because of acting stupid with a straight face makes me wonder if this kind of celebrity is a modern thing or it's always been there. I don't remember Linda Lovelace being a total airhead when she was in the press, but there was a degree of implied irony and silliness involved too.

Maybe the root of all of this is the desire to be liked and accepted. As much as I want to belong, I want to do it on my terms. Maybe a part of the nature of celebrity is exposing one's self in a vulnerable/embarrassing light. I may roll my eyes at moronic quotes and press releases from a modern day celebrity, but I find no humor in people that actually look up to these people. I find it all very sad.

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