Why we hate Cosmo Landesman.
Cosmo Landesman. Is it short for Cosmopolitan or Cosmos? If it's the former, then maybe he ought to get his second name changed by deed poll to "Girl", which would more or less sum up the depth of the latter part of today's article. Having heard his name before, but not knowing why he should be preaching at me on the joys of celebrities, a quick Google informs us that he was previously married to Julie Burchill, the harridan ex-Stalinist upmarket Glenda Slagg from hell, which just about sums up what we ought to expect.
In actual fact, the first part of the article is fairly solid. He's right that people have long been claiming the end of celebrity culture, and have been comprehensively proved wrong. In fact, all the signs point to it getting worse: ever more magazines; newspapers becoming daily versions of said magazines, dedicated to building their profile, then chewing them up and spitting them out; and the celebrities themselves getting ever more desperate in their behaviour and outlandish in their sheer chutzpah, with the adoption of children from Africa or other deprived countries seeming to become the latest fashion accessory while also telling us how much they "care".
No, it's when he starts informing us of why and how these said characters of our everyday lives are famous that he becomes horribly unstuck. You have to hope that he's being ironic, with this remark of complete fatuousness:
The end of celebrity culture isn't going to happen for reasons that have to do with the nature of modern life and aspirations. The first one is very hard for these critics to grasp: people actually like this stuff! They enjoy reading about Kylie, Liz, Robbie and Jordan. There are many sane and decent people who think that the life of former Atomic Kitten singer Kerry Katona is not only enviable and glamorous, but fascinating. She is the Virginia Woolf of the Heat generation.
Just try and get your head round that. Yes, the man is somehow trying to compare Virginia Woolf, one of the greatest female writers of all time, to that fucking soulless cunt best known for appearing in Iceland adverts and for winning I'm A Celebrity a few years back. Even claiming her as the Woolf of the Heat generation is too much. She did use to sing, but produced nothing except the sort of bland worthless shit which clogs the charts like pubic hairs do the sink. In short, she's never done anything, and I can confidently predict will never do anything that will be remembered in 20 years time, let alone in centuries when Woolf still will be. Let's not be too hasty though, for perhaps we can hope that she will emulate Woolf in one way: maybe she'll too decide to end her existence by walking into a river with her pockets full of stones, or with them in her mouth, in which she could probably fit twice as many as weighed down Woolf, or indeed her nose, judging by her copious cocaine habit, a sure signifier of an oxygen thief.
People may like this stuff, and judging by the sales of the magazines, they might increasingly do. This isn't necessarily because of a vacuum otherwise in their lives, but because of the way in which this stupefying crap is constantly thrust down their throats. It's hard to escape: try walking into any shop which sells magazines without seeing the same hideously airbrushed faces leering right into your eyeballs, their phony "problems" and lives endlessly detailed, right down to how many times a day they void their bowels. These people aren't normal, they aren't talented, they're freaks of nature, with breasts the size of balloons and brains the size of bottle-tops. Landesman claims that they're liked because they offer a "human" form of entertainment; contrary to popular belief, there is nothing human about being in constant over-hyped feuds, always battling non-existent demons and toasting ready-made triumphs.
If you dig beneath the veneer of this celebrity diarrhea, you'll quickly discover that none of it is real, that this whole shallow continuing circle is an illusion being created as a license to print money for the laughing corporate suits that are behind it. Any person walking down the street at any given time has more depth than any of these so-called celebrities. The emperor has no clothes, but because of the structure of the media, anyone who mocks celebrities is in fact often paying tribute to them. Bo Selecta! was a case in point: beginning as making fun of both Big Brother and celebrities, it quickly became the thing that it started out satirising. If you were to attack them without any proviso, you'd quickly find yourself being shunned. Sure, celebrities go through bad patches when the media turns on them for some reason, but it's only if they've done something truly "evil" i.e, paedophilia or murder that they're cast aside. Often they emerge from it stronger: see Kate Moss, Madonna, etc.
Those who, like Gordon Brown, claim that these people are "only famous for being famous", are simply uttering a cliched tautology. In fact, they're famous because they represent things that are at the very heart of modern consumer capitalism: social mobility, fashion, the body, sex, and the need for affirmation.
Bollocks. Landesman's love for Kerry Katona would not have happened had she not been chosen to be in a manufactured pop band to begin with. That's not "social mobility", that's being plucked out for being suitably dumb and stupid but being good-looking and not entirely tone deaf with it. She might, just might, have emerged on a show like Big Brother, but it seems doubtful. There's a whole army of young women just like her out there, and only one or two might reach her level of fame. Jordan is only famous because of the size of her breasts and because tabloid newspapers think that their male readers are interested in tits, tits and more tits; sadly, they're somewhat right. Only a few become famous though, and only a few in reality care: it's because the media thinks it's what the public wants that they inform us for hour after hour that truly unremarkable young people are no longer an item. See the response on the BBC boards when they asked for comments: there was a torrent of anger at the level of exposure it was given when yet more people were being ripped apart in Iraq. Celebrity culture may not be about to end, but there is a rising level of contempt for it among a significant number of the population, especially due to the sheer talentlessness of the current participants of it.
It was Susan Sontag who said that being a dandy was a way of being an individual in an age of mass culture. The problem today is how to be an individual in an age of mass individualism, when the usual means of status - clothes, cars, consumer goods - are within the grasp of a majority of the population, at least in the west. The answer is: celebrity. You want celebrity culture to die? Kill capitalism first and then we'll talk.
Landesman has to be joking. This isn't the age of mass individualism; this is the age of mass trends, where a certain group of people all look the same, think the same and are the same. You only have to look at any of the social networking sites to see the evidence for this. True liberation comes from attempting to break free from these social definitions and groupings. Kerry Katona is not an individual. Jordan is not an individual. Most celebrities are not individuals. They are the embodiment of everything wrong with the group that they define, and it's the likes of Landesman perpetuating these myths which is helping ensure that their hegemony continues.
He's right on one thing. Killing capitalism is a good idea, as long as he's one of the first up against the wall.