Category Archives: celebrity-worship

Grim smug Leftist performing animal

Self-righteous guru: hell is being preached at eternally by this humourless puritan

Greta Thunberg, writes Dalrymple,

is to self-righteousness and self-satisfaction what Mozart was to music — a prodigy.

But unlike Mozart,

she is an unattractive child, the grimness of her humourless puritanism being inscribed on her face. She has added a vision of hell: being preached at by her for eternity.

Thunberg’s

awfulness (of which she is unaware) is not really her fault. Her transformation into a celebrity is the work of adults.

The exaggerated respect with which her pronouncements have been received

will be a matter of wonder to future generations. She has addressed not only crowds but parliaments, where she has been accorded a mixed status:

  • guru because she has uttered the tenets of a powerful doxa that so many thirst to believe
  • performing animal because she is so young to perform so unexpectedly well

Thunberg’s humourlessness

is a great asset in the modern world, for when earnestness is mistaken for seriousness and gaiety for frivolity, a sense of humour is not only unlikely to flourish, it is likely to be reprehended. Literal-mindedness has become so general a psychological phenomenon that jokes, most of which are directed against someone, are sure to be taken in their most literal meaning.

Humour has become dangerous. But Thunberg is safe; Dalrymple notes that

the very idea of a joke seems alien to her. I suspect that she is one of those persons who is puzzled when people laugh.

Dead-tree legacy media

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.40.17

The Paris newspaper Libération: aimed at ageing bourgeois bohemians of left-wing persuasion, many of them with ponytails

Dalrymple knows no young person who reads a newspaper. And those few newspapers which survive, thanks to (rapidly dwindling) sales to older readers,

more and more resemble magazines.

He notes that with modern technology, newspapers

can hardly any longer be the first to break news.

As their circulations slump and journalists are sacked in large numbers, newspapers

cannot do much investigative journalism, either.

All that is left to newspapers, Dalrymple points out, is

  • gossip about celebrities
  • explanations of the obvious
  • speculation about the future based on what has happened in the recent past
  • drivel about sport
  • articles catering to modern man’s fathomless narcissism

Against this I raise my sword-spraycan

Heygate Estate, Walworth. Tim Tinker, 1974

Heygate Estate, Walworth, London. Tim Tinker, 1974

Enemies of Corbusian profanation do not hesitate to act

Whole acres, writes Dalrymple, of man-made surfaces are disfigured in Europe by graffiti,

in which some people, ever on the lookout for something counter-intuitive to say, claim to have found art. This is the tribute money pays to poverty without having to part with anything.

The need to assert (rather than express) oneself in some way, no matter how pointless, becomes imperative in a society in which

  • we are all called upon to be unique individuals
  • celebrity has an exaggerated importance in the mental economy of so many
  • employment is often precarious and is felt to be without dignity
  • powerlessness is obvious (powerlessness in a democracy is more humiliating than powerlessness in a tyranny)
Royal National Theatre, South Bank, London. Denys Lasdun, 1967–76

Royal National Theatre, South Bank, London. Denys Lasdun, 1967–76

Taggers tend to deface

ugly surfaces, often of inhuman size, in which modern urban spaces are so richly, or impoverishingly, supplied. It is true that tagging never improves those surfaces, but they are often in themselves of degrading hideousness.

The epidemiology of graffiti

suggests a subliminal aesthetic criticism. It is a commentary on the kind of building and concrete surface that the fascist modernist architect, Le Corbusier, extolled and desired, with the enthusiasm of a revivalist evangelical, to spread throughout the whole world. In a sense, taggers in England and France are endowed with taste.

Having said that, in Italy or Portugal,

18th-century buildings are not exempted from the attentions of bruised and inflamed young egos.

Choked to death on his vomit

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.12.55Ha! That’ll teach him to have been raised so far above us (by our election)

Celebrity, writes Dalrymple,

is conferred on people almost, though not quite, at random: their talents are minor and their appearance pleasing, but they must not otherwise be remarkable or too far removed in their tastes and manner, at least in public, from those who give them fame.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.10.36The contract between celebrities and those who confer celebrity upon them

Celebrities must

allow their lives to be examined and reported on, truthfully or not, in all the media. They must agree to be in the public eye as an old-fashioned family doctor was always on duty for his patients.

Mrs Todgers

Mrs Todgers

How the cult of celebrity is a form of self-worship

The eyes that are cast upon the celebrities

are simultaneously adulatory and sadistic.

Those eyes remind Dalrymple of the eyes of Mrs Todgers in Martin Chuzzlewit:

Mrs Todgers meant by this that she must embrace them once more, which she accordingly did with great ardour.

Mrs Todgers and 'Kim'

Mrs Todgers and Kim

But

the house being full with the exception of one bed, which would now be occupied by Mr Pecksniff, she wanted time for consideration; and so much time too (for it was a knotty point how to dispose of them), that even when this second embrace was over, she stood for some moments gazing at the sisters, with affection beaming in one eye, and calculation shining out of the other. (from ch. 8)

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.15.23At a news-stand, Dalrymple leafs through some magazines

devoted to the pseudo-private-lives of celebrities of whom I have never heard.

He notes headings concerning the celebrity known as ‘Kim’:

KIM’S HUMILIATION

KIM DUMPED ON HER ANNIVERSARY

KIM’S BIG LIE

KIM’S WIG

STRESS MAKES KIM’S HAIR FALL OUT

Dalrymple comments that

the sadism is all too evident. How the celebrity-conferring and celebrity-worshipping public will have relished her suffering! It serves her right for having the fairy-tale life that we conferred on her, and that we should so like to have.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.33.50Accounts of alcoholism, or alleged alcoholism, are a

favourite way in which the magazines, on behalf of their readership, take their revenge on those upon whom celebrity has been conferred.

The onetime idol’s

descent into rehab should preferably be repeated, and the supposed battle lost in advance.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.53.06Once the celebrity has reached the alcoholic stage,

his function is to be a template for the readership’s inexhaustible Schadenfreude.

He must never recover, and the course of his life should be a downward spiral into utter sordor. A happy ending is when

he chokes to death on his own vomit at a comparatively early age. That’ll teach him to have been raised so far above the rest of us, even if it was only by our own election.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.52.23Celebrities are inhabitants

both of a fairy-tale world and our own rather sordid reality. We set them up and we pull them down, enjoying the pleasures both of hero-worship and of cruelty.

The cult of celebrity

is a form of self-worship, both because celebrities are not threateningly different from ourselves, and because we have the power of fame and ignominy over them.

Mrs Todgers and Mr Moddle

Mrs Todgers and Mr Moddle