for like a year i was obsessed with celebrity gossip. it was triggered by the merger of tom cruise and katie holmes -tomkat. it was such an oddly compelling display of humanity, society, and fame, i was hooked. fluff sociology is my intellectual cotton candy. my stalking ended when britney spears had one of her infamous meltdowns. the one where she shaved her head and attacked the paparazzi with her umbrella. it was no longer fascinating; it was just depressing.
watching her was sad, and watching us watch her was much worse. because the way we watch is shameful. because you cannot just watch without impact, right? observation changes that which is being observed. fame is physics. fame is twisted. fame is dumb. so dumb i don’t even want to dignify its absurdity by deconstructing it like it matters. the desire to do so pulls from the same narcissism that birthed hollywood in the first place. and a little i can’t help myself…
we play out bizarre fantasies onto these people made objects. i suppose we do this a bit in all our intimate interactions, but we don’t know these people. we don’t care about these people. we fabricate this one-dimensional perfection, and then love and hate them for it. we offer them admiration and then flex our cruelties when they remind us of their humanity. we set them up. we toss children into this whirl of money and abuse, sex and drugs, flattery and fallacy, loneliness and attention, insecurity and adoration, freedom and suffocation, and think it’s cute. and when the structures necessary for hollywood’s economy of celebrity crack its swindled players, we revel in the shame of it and smirk at our superiority. i know we’re being swindled too. and i know the majority of them are just rich and entitled and they’ll be fine, but what it says about all of us is so unfortunate. when people roll their eyes at the shenanigans or self-involvement of celebrity, all i want is empathy. tu eres mi otro yo, and all that.
i get that hollywood stardom may not feel worthy of our compassion, but we treat true artists the same. these are just symptoms of a grander social ill and it kills, and what’s the point of any of this living if there’s no art, music, dance, humor, theater, writing, etc.? we stare at young artists as they disintegrate in front of us and do nothing. or worse, we stare harder and point and criticize and laugh.
when kurt cobain killed himself, i wrote his name in chalk outside of my house. he meant something to me; i knew we lost somebody, i understood why he did it, and i felt complicit. “the montage of heck” reminded me how much kurt cobain’s music gave and how incomplete our version of him was. every single song is breathtaking. seeing his face and recordings of his joy and humor, and writings of his pain and motivation, all the mayhem that comes with genius, inspired and crushed me. i wanted to bury him in my uterus and take care of him. i wish we actually cared about our artists. i can’t imagine struggling between the drive to create and send it out into the world, and the pain of entrusting that creation to a superficial and spiteful culture. plus, y’know, the serious mental health problems that seem to be correlated with great talent. i wish we knew how not to humiliate them. maybe kurt would have died sooner if we hadn’t been there, and maybe he would have lived longer if we’d just been there a little bit more. maybe they all would have.