Wednesday, October 14, 2009

'A sickening misuse of the gift of life'

Outstanding piece in the Times today, about the hideousness of celebrity culture:

The centuries of prattle, of air time and screen time, the miles of column inches are a sickening misuse of the gift of life, of health and adequate nutrition, of freedom from oppression, of the access we now have to the world of knowledge and the arts. They are stolen from thought about, or discussion of, things that are truly important or worthwhile; fighting poverty, disease and the iniquities and injustice of the world; the profound joy afforded by literature and the arts; questions about the meaningful purpose of life.

The celebrity culture is a black hole sucking up light. It is not only a manifestation of the cretinisation or tabloidisation of our culture but further cretinises it.

Celebrity culture spreads like a stain. It engulfs even those whose fame is rooted in real achievement or real responsibility. As the empty are valued, so the valuable are emptied. They are treated as if they were as vacuous as pop idols. Scientists, artists and politicians become defined in the collective consciousness not by the serious, complex matters that they deal with or by their real achievements but, increasingly, by their sex lives, their personal traumas, their peccadillos.

Never mind the general theory of relativity and those field equations that are one of the greatest monuments of the human intellect. What the punter wants to know is whether Einstein s****ed his dog. (my emphasis)

Comedian Stewart Lee, critiquing celebrity 'books', made the point that someone who read them would end the books more stupid than when they started. Marcus Brigstocke 'alleged' on Sunday night that some atheists are atheists because they can't hold the concept 'God' in their head without their eyes glazing over. Maybe the Stupid Society is more of a problem than the Broken Society, or perhaps it's just a symptom of it. If our capacity to think and reason is broken, traded in for a pole dancer and the latest rock star implosion, then that's a serious problem.

There's probably a good book out there comparing the decline of the Roman empire with postmodern Britain, but I'm not sure I'm ready to get that depressed.

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