Fame Part Two

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Posh and Becks feature in a nativity scene at Madame Tussaud’s.

Photo: Reuters.

Continuing my musings on fame and its contemporary cultural significance, what’s going on when our Nic is named UN Citizen of the World alongside Hans Blix and Lakhdar Brahimi, Angelina Jolie saves the world, one adoption at a time and Dannii Minogue, clad only in a red ribbon, is the postergirl for HIV/AIDS prevention organisation the Terrence Higgins Trust?

Minogue says:

that her latest song, ‘You Won’t Forget About Me’, is about breaking down stereotypes and myths surrounding Aids such as it being a gay disease.

Bitchy, I know, but don’t you think Dannii is looking more and more like Michael Jackson?

I won’t even discuss Hollywood celebrities and musos campaigning against Bush or the latest iteration of that horrible Band-Aid song?

So what’s going on? Do we live out our humanitarian, political, religious and public health impulses mediated through the cult of celebrity?

ELSEWHERE: Jess at Austculture defends Angelina’s honour.

JUST IN: Jess has more thoughts on Ms Jolie, answering a question on everyone’s mind.

UPDATE: Religious leaders agree with Homer.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

now this is what I would call blasphemy.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

At the very least, extremely tacky, Homer.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I love the expression on the child’s face.

With Danii – such an obvious piece of gaffer tape.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I’m in a bitchy mood today, David – does Dannii need gaffer tape or might her boobs be self-supporting?

Oh – and why does stumbling over one’s typewriter keys automatically celebritise a name?

susan hopkins
susan hopkins
2022 years ago

yes, well said, the whole celebrity worship trend is almost as annoying as the honorary doctorate- where the undeserving and untalented are rewarded mostly for being in the right place at the right time. But if you cant beat ’em join em maybe- I read an interesting piece on what are the key ingredients of (music) celebrity according to a book written by American PR types. Supposedly the key ingredients of making it big are:
geography (head to New York or London, no body “blows up” in Brisbane apparently)
luck (being in the right time again)
role modelling and mentoring (otherwise kissing up to the right people and getting them on side)
a certain Machiavellianism and fanaticism (apparently most of the stars of our time were first fans and somewhat practical and cynical in their dealings with others)
grandiose often manic schemes
and lastly skill (this was listed as the last priority)_
So according to the reference these are some of the key building blocks of celebritydom..sounds eerily familiar…
ps the baby Brooklyn looks to be in shock

Graham
2022 years ago

Does anyone find it odd, that given Beckham’s stature in the machismic world of footie (not that he would make my World XI anyway), he has a voice weedier than William Burroughs?

mark
2022 years ago

Well, Graham, I do now…

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

As well as the Beckhams as Joseph and Mary, the Tussaud’s nativity scene also features the following (from BBC website) “the three wise men are Tony Blair, George W Bush and Prince Philip. The shepherds are Samuel L Jackson, Hugh Grant and Graham Norton.”

Amanda
2022 years ago

People contribute in all sorts of ways. Hans Blix and Brahimi do their invaluable thing but what they don’t do is get UNICEF in the pages of Woman’s Day. Nic and Angelina do. If there is a net $1 gain or one person gets moved to “do something” about Dafur because Ange says so, well, I can’t get too sniffy about it.

This of course doesn’t address the underlying reasons for the culture. So, yeah, when I am God-Emporer the world will be run along different lines and there will be no more midless celebrity worship but until such a day, I guess we just have to work with what we’ve got.

I don’t have much time either for people who say celebrities shouldn’t get involved in politics a la the Vote for Change tour or whatever. All sorts of uniformed people get their say on politics, its called voting. Being a celebrity doesn’t remove your right to free speech. Sure, they have a bigger public platform and that could be seen as unfair, but, hell, they also have better plastic surgons and drugs than the rest of us too.

Yes, Beckham’s voice is freaky.

That baby can’t be Brooklyn, he is about 4 or 5. Surely it is a doll.

Alex
Alex
2022 years ago

Nah, he’s been mutated by the radiation from the lump of kryptonite glowing behind him.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Danni Minogue is less a celebrity and more a curiosity. I think that even the dullest observer might work out that Danni in a red ribbon has less to do with AIDS and more to do with Danni.

Isn’t the Tussaud’s thing a cruel but effective pisstake of both the Beckham’s and those who would celebrate their celebrity? Even more so when you consider that the 3 wise men in the same nativity scene are Tony Blair, Prince Philip and George Bush. Madame Tussaud got her start by doing wax death masks of celebrities guillotined during the Reign of Terror. Her legacy is arguably one of mocking celebrity – and celebrating mortality – rather than extolling it. “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” and all that.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

“I don’t have much time either for people who say celebrities shouldn’t get involved in politics a la the Vote for Change tour or whatever.”

Sorry you feel that way. My views on that matter are the opposite, passionately so. I try to mistrust passion in others and feel obliged to mistrust it in myself too. Recently I was leant a CD by a band named Wilco. I’ve been listening to it over the past couple of weeks with increasing pleasure. The music is revealing itself to me slowly which is just how I like it. I finally got around to checking out the band on Google to find out more about their work and who they are. I read some rave reviews about live concerts in the US but the reviewers also mentionecpolitical messages delivered in between songs, anti-war, anti-Bush, anti corporate America.

If they tour here I will not go and see them. It makes me feel sad and shut out from an artistic relationship that I wanted. They clearly don’t want me there and don’t think their art is for me. This must be the source of my passion and anger.

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

so, James, I don’t get it. do you think musicians should stear clear of politics? I read authors whose politics I abhor with pleasure.

ps – it’s not kryptonite, it’s yellowcake uranium some terrorist has dropped by mistake on the way to no. 10

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

hmmm, I’m now wondering if guessing the nature of the shiny thing near the baby should be the subject of another Troppo contest!

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

oh, and Susan, the most bizarre honorary doctorate must be Dr Hollingworth’s. As a former Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, he was entitled to be called Bishop Hollingworth. But he thought (or someone advised him) that sounded a touch non-secular for a G-G. So he got the Archbishop of Canterbury to award him an honorary doctorate (I never knew that the Archbishop of Canterbury was a University). He later claimed that it was a real doctorate awarded for his writings on social welfare. So he ended up as –

“His Excellency, the Most Reverend Dr Peter Hollingworth”

!!!

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

maybe he wrote a thesis on how to counsel victims of clerical sexual abuse? or was it a doctorate in insurance/risk management?

Amanda
2022 years ago

Then James, get into Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy’s original band — much better music, no politics! Or Jay Farrar, his partner in UT who is the way better singer and songwriter.

So, you will still listen to Wilco on CD just not in concert? Or not CD either?

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

Yellowvinyl, I too read authors whose politics I abhor with pleasure, as I do with many musicians. I do not like it when they stand up on a podium and lecture me on current affairs – this also applies when I agree with them btw. I am very impressed by those whose opinions I know full well but could not easily decifer through there art and their public comments.

Amanda, I will continue listening to Wilco but I won’t go to the gig because of the political rantings. Furthermore I have listened to Uncle Tupelo and dismissed it as commo crap. I did not know of the connection prior to looking Wilco up on the net. Having said that, everybody else I know who has listened to UT insists I am flat out wrong about them.

Maybe from where you guys stand this all sounds silly but the view is based on my own that art is greater than politics and an artist can have a very meaningful relationship with his or her audience inspite of politics. Non overtly politicial art emphasises the similarities between us rather than differences.

I do not begrudge any artist their beliefs I just don’t think ramming them down my throat through their art and especially on the podium of celebrity does their art justice.

And, yes art can say something important but softly softly converty monkey.

Amanda
2022 years ago

I have failed to detect the bolshie subtext of UT. I will have to listen more closely, I might like them even more than I thought.

Although this might be a good summary of the history of Soviet Russia:

Well I took a fifth, and I poured me a shot
And I thought about all the things that I haven’t got
And I drank that down, and I poured me some more
Kept drinking and pouring till I felt the floor

I got drunk and I fell down
I got drunk and I fell down

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

gorby used to worry about alcoholism in the soviet union – funny since I always thought that birthmark on his head was the mark of the beast…

James, I can sorta see where yr coming from. I don’t mind musicians having a political slant to their lyrics, but unless I’m at a billy bragg gig, I’d rather the stage patter be more, well, contextual. deborah conway btw in her recent shows – someone with some strong political views – was brilliant in that she explained every song on her new album – ie what caused her to write it, etc.

particularly illuminating was the intro to ‘accidents happen in the home’.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I saw Deborah Conway this year, too, yellowvinyl, and thoroughly agree about her fabulousness.

Her new album ‘Summertown’ is excellent:

http://www.deborahconway.com/52summertown_2004.html

I also remember a gig in 94 (acoustic, with just a drummer) at the late lamented Van Gogh’s Earlobe (now a strip club but formerly a great venue for intimate gigs and theatre) when she told a story about telling a record producer in Hollywood in Do Re Mi days who advised her to change her name to “Debbie” that “Deborah was a judge over Israel”. She’s a brilliant performer!

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

cool, Mark. we could do with more venues like that – the problem with seeing a band in a theater (like qpac or the powerhouse in vegas) is that you really can’t dance/interact with the crowd. I get the impression this restricts the performers’ enjoyment of the two way thing too…