Chuck Klosterman on Fame, from “Eating the Dinosaur”

May 24, 2010

“I do not know how much money Britney Spears earned last year. However, I do know that it’s not enough for me to want her life, were I given the option to have it. Everyday random people use Britney’s existence as currency; they talk about her public  failures and her lack of talent as a way to fill the emptiness of their own normalcy. She — along with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and all those androids from The Hills — are the unifying entities within this meta era. In splintered society, they are the means through which people devoid of creativity communicate with each other. They allow Americans to understand who they are and who they are not; they allow Americans to unilaterally agree on something they never needed to consciously consider.”

“A person like Britney Spears surrenders her privacy and her integrity and the rights to her own persona, and in exchange we give her huge sums of money. But she still doesn’t earn a fraction of what she warrants in a free-trade cultural economy. If Britney Spears were paid $1 every time a self-loathing stranger used her as a surrogate for his own failure, she would out earn Warren Buffet in three months. This is why entertainers (and athletes) make so much revenue but still are wildly underpaid: We use them for things that are worth more than money. It’s anew kind of dehumanizing slavery — not as awful as they literal variety, but dehumanizing nonetheless.”

— Chuck Klosterman, Eating the Dinosaur
Buy the book here on Amazon

This is the first collection of Chuck Klosterman’s work that I’ve read though it won’t be the last. I think he’s really nailed something important about how fame, celebrity and media work today in the excerpt above. Especially when he writes, “We use them for things that are worth more than money.”  Scary. But true, I think.


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