Celebrities: the new elite?
"The noughties": the buzzword of the moment. Bandied about by the media, the term "zero years" would probably have been more fitting as the decade drew to a close. Cue a crowd of intellectual non-entities, including rappers, models, footballers, pop stars and former tennis aces lining up in front of the camera. They had nothing to say which might open our minds, or help us make sense of our confused world. But they were all huge celebrities, which means famous from the TV.
Not so long ago, it was the cerebral types who had their chance to shine at the end of the year. Great thinkers, scientists, statesmen. People who'd spent their whole year thinking rather than parading around on TV. But things have changed, make no mistake. The recycling machine that is television only tolerates people who are already famous for being on TV. Which inevitably means that our screens are awash with an increasingly archetypal bunch of morons. A motley crew made up of the beautiful and the comical. They need so much time to make themselves seem interesting, there's hardly any time left for them to be interested in anything else. In expanding their minds, for instance. No, that requires far too much time and energy. And that might detract from their success.
Sociologists say we're moving towards a society in which the elite is made up of the uneducated and ignorant. Models, Formula 1 drivers, pop stars. These are the faces that are splashed across our TV screens and newspapers, day after day. The dominance of visual media is driving a move away from the elite towards celebrities. In earlier societies, the elite owed their power to the privilege of having a global view of the world. The king, the high priest, the commander on his hill: they ruled because it was they who saw and controlled everyone else, without being seen themselves. Today it's the other way round: the ones who get ahead are those who are seen by everyone without seeing much themselves.
It's all a question of visibility. Digital media -TV, magazines and sometimes the Internet - fuel the careers of those who draw the most attention to themselves. It doesn't matter what they do, it's about faces. The face might be nothing special - just look at Paris Hilton- the main thing is that it's ubiquitous. Even serious newspapers are stupid enough to devote column inches to the party-girl lifestyle. Presumably this is deemed newsworthy because of the Hiltons' celebrity.
Fame is replacing talent. Being dubbed "unknown" is the worst possible criticism there is. Those who manage, by whatever means, to draw attention to themselves, will become famous. It's just stupid because this doesn't benefit anyone. The celebs sit admiring themselves, alone in front of the camera's gaze, while we stumble into what will presumably be another zero year, with nobody to spark inspiration in us.