Random Thoughts: celebrity culture


Hanl Brown

Staff reporter Aden McClune shares his perspective on various issues in his weekly column, Random Thoughts.

Aden McClune, Staff Reporter

At this point in our development as a society, almost everyone is exposed to mass media and celebrity culture. Celebrity worship is not uncommon, and a standard topic to bring up to “break the ice” is commentary on whatever most recent drama is shocking the world (The Oscars, passing comments in interviews, the royals, etc.) These are distractions, obviously, either overt, or subtle, and are referred to as “The Spectacle.” 

The Spectacle, popularized by French philosopher Guy Debord, is simultaneously “all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification.” This may sound confusing, but one can piece it together as many of us are familiar with examples. The Royal Family, for instance. Everyone has seen those dozen magazines with spectacular headlining talking about who said what to who, how they reacted, how many times the queen has died this month, what scandal is next, etc. 

The latest situation at The Oscars is another excellent example of the spectacle. Who cares if some celebrity slapped another one? You don’t know them. You’ll never interact with them, and you’ll never be in their situation, much less get within 500 feet of where The Oscars is hosted. Why do people care? They care because they are engineered to care, and it is almost necessary to care in order to place yourself within our society.

Mass entertainment is also a clear example. Marvel movies for instance. Grown adults dedicate who knows how much of their time to endless discussions of these carnival rides of cinema. Viewing and reviewing, countless hours and money spent on something that doesn’t really matter, but it is specifically engineered to bring people in. Why? To distract the masses from class antagonisms.

The message and purpose of these things are clear, as Debord writes; “In the spectacle, which is the image of the ruling economy, the goal is nothing, development everything.” It exists simply to exist. It is endless.

I have attempted to do this very nuanced and complex topic some basic justice. If you’re interested, for further reading, the excellent 1967 work by Guy Debord can be found here.