Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Tyranny of criteria

It may be that people want there to be a class of people who are famous for absolutely no reason -- the Paris Hilton phenomenon. If a person is famous for some specific accomplishment, then to appreciate that person requires some understanding of the criteria. You have to understand something about music, or at least pretend to, to be interested in the doings of a person famous for music. But to be interested in something famous for no reason requires no criteria, no prior knowledge or understanding -- instead it requires a suspension of such things, a willingness to put aside questions of merit and be fascinated for no good rational reason at all. So the Paris Hiltons of the world offer an escape from technocratic reason, rationality and calculation perhaps? Not for those who profit by them, but perhaps for those who are just inexplicably fascinated.

The ability to do something for no reason at all is extremely attractive in our society, the ultimate luxury, which naturally attaches to the extremely wealthy -- Paris Hilton -- who simply manifest that capacity, the ability to exist beyond criteria, beyond evaluation, to simply exist at the level of pure impulse. If our work and leisure time are subject to equally rationalized calculation, it's only natural that our dreams would be haunted by these visions of unwarranted, uncalculable celebrity; if we are oppressed by merit and injustice, we would naturally seek escape in something with no merit before whom the logic of justice withers.
In a society over saturated with manipulative symbols, it must come as a relief to become preoccupied with one that seems filled to bursting with its own emptiness, with its own magnificient insignificance.

Pure celebrity, celebrity for no reason, allows for pure fascination, fascination with no criteria and no limits and no expectations or explanations. This is pure freedom, pure the way a page is blank.

1 comment:

  1. do people really want there to be a class of ppl who are famous for nothing--or does the media want this?

    after all, the media is the one pushing her down our throats.