The other night, much of the world was oblivious to the horrible suffering endured by 1 billion people, and I'm not talking about the poor and disenfranchised.
I’m talking about the estimated worldwide audience that watched the Oscars telecast …
In hopes of conquering such strife, back in February, I called for a metaphoric colon cleanse of society - “Fodder-Free February.” The mission was a month-long moratorium on famous people who are well suited for passing through our bowels.
It would be a month free of banal celebrity gossip. (Luckily, I chose the shortest month of the year.)
Some of my readers were honest enough to admit from the start that they wouldn’t join, knowing they would fail almost immediately. While some did join the quest, I don’t know how they fared.
Still, I went a whole month without talking about celebrities. More specifically, without actively making fun of celebrities. (Sometimes it’s just a reflex.)
But, because I succeeded, I also failed.
I failed to surrender my stubbornness, and in doing so failed to surrender to the ubiquity of celebrity and its importance in our society.
It is important for us to accept that many of these over-paid, over-idolized, over-estimated people are not only part of our pop culture, but part of our overall culture too. If we are to dismiss their existence, we also dismiss much of ours.
A culture is defined as the sum of inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action. Whether we like it or not, celebrity and infamy are core components of our value system.
To cement this fact, look no further than last night.
One billion people tuned in to tune out an agonizingly boring telecast of the Academy Awards.
For the most part, the running commentary on Twitter and Facebook bashed the lackluster show and its lack of appeal. And throughout this entire overdose of dreck, people continued to complain, but more important, they continued to watch.
News, art, fashion, politics, economy, philanthropy, entertainment … Fame helps drive all these workings of society, even if they don’t always work so well.
And whether or not we see it as worthwhile, its worth cannot be underestimated.
The amount of conversations in which I could not engage, and the number of people I had to ignore just to get my “Fodder-Free February” point across, actually stripped me of influence, relevance, and even ego.
Holding back that much on witty repartee is like drinking a pitcher of iced tea, on a full bladder, with no toilet in sight, and being forced to watch a waterfall… while doing jumping jacks. And trust me, I’m not one to exaggerate - practically a gadzillion people would agree with me on this one.
Admittedly, during the month, I did talk to my boyfriend about celebrities from time to time, but none of that counted, as he never really listened to me anyway. Not because I spoke of celebrities, but because we are couple, and that is what couples do. They sometimes pretend to listen.
Which is not nearly as bad as actually listening to some people, such as the entertainment “reporters” or correspondents who covered the Academy Awards last night.
“I don’t want to see somebody’s bellybutton through their silk dress. It’s the worst!” said E! Channel’s Kelly Osbourne. Because nothing is as bad as a hole that cannot be hidden, or perhaps muted.
After Osbourne walked us through 10 minutes (or eons) of her bellybutton manifesto, she and her colleague, Giuliana Rancic, took another few minutes to awkwardly discuss Natalie Portman’s evolving look through her pregnancy.
“It’s crazy. Every two weeks we see her and she gets bigger and bigger all the time.”
“Yes, crazy,” Rancic replied to Osbourne.
Indeed. How many pregnant women actually get bigger throughout their pregnancy? Insane.
Only more insane perhaps was an E! Channel personality named Kat. A woman who surely got hired based on her extraneous knowledge of the celebrities she interviews – for a living.
And, so, the Oscar for “Line of the Night” goes to her:
“You need a glass of champagne, I can tell.”
Or, maybe, it should go to Russell Brand for his response:
“I’m a recovering alcoholic.”
Yes. This is the world we live in.
It’s a place where knowledge is underpaid, and noledge is overpaid. It’s a place where Snooki has a New York Times' bestseller, and so I aspire to be like her. And it’s a place where celebrities may not be deities, but they are certainly followed religiously.
Celebrity has officially married Culture. And for now we must accept this, because it doesn’t look like there’s a divorce coming any time soon.