Of all of the “best of” posts, articles, surveys and stories that have marked the end of this year and decade, perhaps none captured the state of pop culture more than USA Today’s headline story Thursday.
“Nobodies walk the path to stardom,” proclaimed the headline on the front page of its “Life” section. “Anybody was a star,” said its front page teaser.
USA Today’s summary of what it took to be a celebrity this decade was brilliantly simple and delightfully honest, especially given that the folks there are part of the problem.
“Anyone could become famous,” wrote Ann Aldenburg in her piece. “Random people became famous for being famous. Or famous for nothing at all.”
No kidding! After all, what has Paris Hilton really accomplished? Is Brittany Spears really one of the worlds’ finest singers? Has Lindsay Lohan really contributed anything to cinema since her delightful turn in “The Parent Trap”? What is really so significant about Jessica Simpson?
In today’s celebrity world, up is down. Right is wrong. Ethical is boring. Moral compass lands you on page 27. Sins get you headlines. Authentic inspiration seems out of favor. Transparent spirituality isn’t even on the scale.
“What’s so different about that?” you may say. “Hasn’t it always been that way?”
Well, no I say. It used to be that great feats of skill, courage, contribution and achievement made Page One, and the rest got the last few column inches or a few words right before sign-off. Now it’s the other way around. What a shame.
I hope the cultural current turns for the better in the coming decade. I will do what I can to contribute to it.
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