15 July 2009
In what has now become one of the more infamous instances of life imitating art, the etymology of the now ubiquitous term paparazzi looks to the startling imaginative mind of the Maestro, Federico Fellini, and his masterpiece, La Dolce Vita. Portending the surrealist fantasies of his later work, La Dolce Vita is an explosion of images and storytelling, ideas and emotions, form and content. Deconstructing with a coy eye the hedonistic tendencies of the Italian elite, he named the insatiable gossip photographer Paparazzo, who like a mosquito was always buzzing around, annoyingly invading the privacy of his evasive subjects.
I heard on the NPR the other day a startling statistic. Despite the macabre toll the economy and the internet have exacted upon the print media, gossip magazines such as OK!, People, and countless other worthless rags have all increased readership and advertising revenue. This is astounding to me, but I really shouldn't be so naïve. Who reads the New Yorker, The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic or The Economist anyhow? Curious educated people? How boring.
Who are these poor souls who lust for every minor detail of the sordid lives of celebrities? Don't let me disabuse, I don't want to come off as some elitist ponce taking a piss from my ivory tower, when the Starr Report came out I greedily read every disgusting detail with vigor. And I'm well aware Amy Winehouse has some serious issues with crack, but I can't ever imagine spending more than a minute's thought on this nonsense. It is a stray hair on the page of today. Isn't life complicated enough? I'm no celebrity and my life isn't very glamourous, but I find fascinating, frustrating, fulfilling moments in my personal life on a daily basis -- I'm not strong enough to deal with the issues of people I'll never even meet.
Celebrities have become the modern equivalent of mythological gods and goddesses of ancient Greek & Roman civilizations. Who's fucking who? who's fucking over who? Who's snorting what? Isn't it just too much? I don't know what Jon and Kate is, and I'm damn proud of that.