One of the most perceptive essays I’ve ever read on celebrity culture and journalism also delivered a number of guffaws. The writer, Stephen Marche, who is a contributing editor to Esquire, holds nothing back.
Here’s his first column paragraph from the NYTimes: I HAVE been attacked pretty much my entire career by Gawker. I made its list of “least important writers” twice, and it put me in 62nd place on its “worst 100 white men” list, which also included Judas Iscariot and Joe Paterno. Gawker writers have called me a “terrible writer” and a “terrible sexist” and insinuated that my wife wants to stab me.
I was quite certain that Thiel had gained another supporter and Gawker was going to experience one more take-down. Boy, was I wrong!
If you’ve learned to read commentary, you know to head for the middle of the short essay and look for his thesis statement and elaboration. So here it is: I believe that Gawker serves an essential function in a celebrity-obsessed culture, and if it were to disappear the world would be poorer and the cause of journalistic truth would be damaged. . . . The distaste Gawker provokes is largely a result of the world it inhabits and reflects. Gawker is responding to an asymmetry of celebrity power, and the way that celebrities like Bill Cosby, Jimmy Savile, Jian Ghomeshi and Woody Allen, to name a few, become immune to the pressures of civil society.
Marche leaves no field unturned. Mr. Thiel meanwhile seems to want a world in which he, personally, encounters no resistance, whether it comes from government or the free press or anyone else for that matter. He has declared, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” and he is on the board at Facebook. The new breed of technologists who are taking control of the news media do not feel they should pay taxes or submit to regulation or offer anything more than disruption to their employees. They need to be challenged. And Gawker, at least, has challenged them.
Then, lest you think his self-disclosure is merely a ploy, he tosses in another highly-evaluative, piece of self-disclosure: On a lesser scale, the attacks on me always seemed as if the writers were talking about a fictional creation named “Stephen Marche.” In their eyes, because I was a columnist at Esquire, I must therefore be a younger, lousier version of Norman Mailer. It bothered me that they never caught the actual mistakes that I made. They weren’t reading me closely enough to hate me for what I deserved to be hated for.
I certainly hope you’ll read this brilliant essay on the downside of the celebrity culture and its impact. It’s very brief and may only stir a bit of your gray matter. But I hope it just may overturn some of the thoughtless media support for Thiel and etc. So to make it easy for you, I’ve attached three links in various paragraphs to catch your attention.
Enjoy! Or, think a bit more deeply and provocatively. It’s good for your gut.