The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Funny how I should comment on my half-hearted desire to appear in a major motion picture the same day that I come across this mini-observation of how today's society is fixated with gaining fame.

The willingness of the average slob to demean him/herself on Jerry Springer doesn't interest me as much as the observation that Generation X and Y (and whoever's next up on deck) has grown up surrounded by instant access to widely-distributed media, like videocameras, the Web, cellphones, etc. This makes exposure to a wider network of media almost second nature. Of course, there's still more cache to being on one of the major television networks versus your own personal out-of-the-way blog; or in a major Hollywood movie versus some cable access show. The commonplace access points become less valuable the more permeable they are, but they establish your initial interaction with bigger media.

Certainly, for this generation of young people, life has been documented almost as if it were their own personal movie, says [Robert Thompson, director of the Centre for the Study of Popular Television and a professor at Syracuse University].

"Dad had a camera aimed right at them when they exited the womb," he says. "Every time they took a first step or blew out the candles on their birthday cake, somebody was videotaping it."

So taking it the next step - to TV or the Web - is now almost considered the norm, says another analyst of pop culture.

"It's so publicized and pre-processed that it turns into a kind of anonymity," says Jerry Herron, a professor of American studies at Wayne State University in Detroit. "It's like a nude beach, where everybody is naked. Nobody, individually, feels embarrassed."

I also loved this girl's schtick:

During her interview, Dina Clemente, a 27-year-old who works in a suburban Chicago salon by day, laughs as she tells Blincoe how she pretends to be a porn star recruiter when she meets guys in bars.

I'd love to hear that pitch! Who knows, maybe she'll take a trip down to Tampa/St. Pete sometime, and I can be on the receiving end of it. (Hope she's cute.)

The Andy Warhol 15-minutes-of-fame quote is a natural to come up in something like this (note how one of the interviewees, not the reporter, brought it up; points to how embedded that quote and observation is in the culture). That always reminds me of an argument I had with some idiot a couple of years ago. We were talking about Warhol, the 15-minute quote came up, and he was trying, intently, to convince me that the original version of the quote was, "In the future, everyone will be famous for fourteen minutes." Don't ask me where he picked up this misinformation, or why he so wanted it to be true; I didn't take him seriously enough to pay attention.