The turning point was reality television, most specifically “The Real World,” suddenly you could be famous for nothing. You could trump up your personality, argue, and the edgier you were, the more attention you gained, can you say PUCK?
Concomitant with this was the era of the afternoon talk show. Where the more outrageous you were, the more Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones were interested in exposing your story.
Sure, it didn’t last, but you got your fifteen minutes. You could put it on your resume. Not for a job, but as a notch in your belt in this game we call life.
Then came “The Jersey Shore.” Not only were they outrageous on camera, but they opened clubs, they made a few bucks before they returned back to the suburbs. This was after “Survivor” and “Big Brother.” Contestants on those shows thought they had careers, but they didn’t. Now players knew it was evanescent, but they didn’t care.
Then we had the apotheosis, the Kardashians, who were not only famous for nothing, they became rich in the process! Telling fake stories while denying their plastic surgery. WATCHA GONNA DO?
If you’ve been following the news, there’s a big kerfuffle re affirmative action. In NYC, do the underprivileged get to go to good schools, displacing the Asians? And are the Asians unfairly excluded from Harvard? And these are real issues, deserving debate, but they couldn’t be further afield from the fame for nothing crew. That’s America today, those on a trip to somewhere and those on a trip to nowhere, and the nowhere people want their moment and the somewhere people just can’t understand it.
In today’s “Times” there’s a story on the Cash Me Outside girl. You probably know this meme. A young girl with no good path, who got breast implants at thirteen, utters a phrase in Ebonics on “Dr. Phil” and not only is she instantly famous, the entertainment whores sign her up and she gets a record deal at Atlantic. If your parents are not cracking the whip, keeping you on the straight and narrow, you say to yourself…I WANT ME SOME OF THAT!
And there’s a whole internet complex ready to scoop you up. You “promote” yourself on Instagram and other social networks, hoping to gain enough followers so you can sell out to advertisers in sponsorship and ultimately cross over to TV. Meanwhile, the somnambulant press keeps trumpeting the antics of these idiots, promoting them as the new stars when the truth is almost none of them last, they get their moment and… We need news outlets, but it turns out they haven’t adjusted to the modern paradigm, just reporting is not enough, you’ve got to have a viewpoint, which is why Fox News is so successful. Furthermore, news outlets show no vision, they have no idea of where it’s all going, never mind the impact of their coverage. Meanwhile, bottom feeders like BuzzFeed take up the slack, one thing they know is their audience, they know where the culture is going, so you can’t evade the clickbait, meanwhile old stalwarts like “People” and “The Enquirer” are trying to follow along.
There’s endless conversation about political fake news on Facebook when that’s de minimis compared to the CULTURAL fake news on the site. Hell, even the upper middle class, those with graduate degrees, are boasting online. They want to let their compatriots, their “friends,” know how much better their lives are. Meanwhile, most of America sits at home pissed and depressed, feeling inadequate.
And no one likes their opportunity stolen, so they vote for Trump, believing he’ll make things right, that you can have no CV and be a millionaire and no one will get in your way. Yup, you’re gonna be famous, and if the immigrants get a chance, if the Chinese get a chance, if the CANADIANS get a chance, your odds will be lower.
I know it sounds idiotic, that the same people playing the new game want to jet back to the old, but that’s what Making America Great Again is all about, even though it wasn’t so great at the time they’re reminiscing about, they certainly couldn’t get famous on the internet.
They’d have to go to school, do the hard work.
But now if you graduate from college you’re qualified to become a receptionist, that’s right, you can’t get that gig without a degree.
Meanwhile, rappers are advertising brands you cannot afford.
And those playing by the old rules have contempt for you, as they’ve got it for those above them on the totem pole, the financiers who create nothing and the techies providing few jobs.
So what is your option but to try and become famous. You’ve got a phone, posting is free! Maybe at the cost of advertising and your soul and your future, but the other route is riddled with potholes.
And if it all fails you can go on drugs. Heroin is cheaper and cleaner than ever. And hell, you can order fentanyl on the internet. And if Prince and Tom Petty O.D. that’s just a path worth taking, you’ll be famous in the afterlife!