Tuesday, June 13, 2006
No one would get an argument from me if yesterday’s Con & Po post were, at some point, described as a trivial one.
But, it is a companion to today’s rumination.
Arlie Latham's 1889 baseball card and a still from Paris Hilton's "banned"2005 commercial for the Carl's Jr. hamburger chain
America and her yellow press have long gazed into the dirty mirror of celebrity.
At first, the byproduct of this narcissistic lingering was soundless, innocent fun with a curiosity factor and wildly unsophisticated pre-corporate Western twist that almost demanded worldwide mimicry.
After all, what breathing hominid could resist watching bashful farm boys and shapely young girls transformed, magnified into…
The late nineteenth century had no vocabulary for these overnight transmogrifications of athlete and performer onto an arena once exclusively occupied by gods and the ruling class.
The heroic fame once reserved for valiant soldiers, learned individuals, athletes and royals was, in the fulsome feature reporting that was selling newspapers, grafted onto an infinite supply of callow, if renowned, unskilled youth.
This fame, unlike its lingering aftereffects, and as even a proto-hominid could have observed is fairly fleeting but highly profitable for 3rd parties.
The occasionally famous were assumed to be automatically heroic which, in turn, guaranteed that both their unnatural elevations and natural downfalls would generate reams of eminently salable feature material.
Need promised to never dent demand and one didn’t need an accounting degree to detect the lucrative possibilities.
The 19th century’s yellow press transformed and magnified into a present day digital media hydra possessed with a multi-pronged, unrestrained hunger for the comely and famous and the economic clout of a nearly tangible commodity.
Today’s global corporate class, in part, funds its modern existence on the unblemished backs of these overly imaged and hopefully self-extinguishing bonfires of vanity and the increasingly uneducated mass audience that new media seems conversely intent upon educating as well as fragmenting.
Elitist need has outpaced mass demand.
Battles will be fought and populations will sway as a digital Hannibal approaches the status Po, however, it remains unclear just who it is that occupies Rome.
One could make a case that recent historical events have fueled the rightist retrenchment of the ruling class.
One could also make a case that these events were brought into being by colluding members of that ruling class to achieve economic generational security before the dark maw of uncertainty that many perceive drawing nigh.
It is a certainty that something is bound to fall before Act 3 of the old human drama begins.
Contrary to the usual historic progression, I’m betting the new fallen will be the masses of mesmerized ruled in a neo feudal and space faring new world order.
I’m frightened to have to say that pop Sci-Fi’s worst imaginings will become reality if free people just kick back with an iPod loaded with Paris Hilton.
NOTE--The near total planetary penetration of American pop culture can be seen in this June 7th item from the Jakarta Post in Indonesia.
Photos: BaseballHallOfFame.org, BusinessWeek.com