And there’s more …
Every area of science and art is represented in my recollected pantheon of inspiringly accomplished celebs. The mass preoccupations of yore were bold and inclusive, thereby broadening our frame of reference whether we liked it or not. Even if you loathed foreign movies you knew the names Fellini and Godard. You may not have been part of the literati, but you knew that Iris Murdoch, Edna O’Brien, Harold Pinter, Truman Capote, and Gore Vidal were integral to the groovy, swinging cultural landscape. Even if you loathed opera, you knew and respected Maria Callas and her commitment to her art, to mention nothing of her commitment to dramatic black eyeliner and swallowing a tapeworm to get thin, allegedly. Even if you abhorred bullfighting, you knew the name El Cordobés. Everyone did, as evidenced by the fact that, when I was about 10, my schizophrenic Uncle Ken gave me a poster depicting this fearless toreador: That’s how bloody famous he was.
And what exactly do we celebrate today?
Today we celebrate all the crap I mentioned at the beginning of this article, which basically means that we celebrate audacious women with impressive racks. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not hating on audacious women with impressive racks. I am a big Russ Meyer fan and have, in fact, something of a soft spot for audacious women with impressive racks. They are just great. However, audacious women with impressive racks are like cupcakes, and man cannot live on cupcakes alone. Sometimes you crave the crusty whole meal of an accomplished person. But today, alas, we are on a cupcakes-only diet.
The question is, why? Why have we shoved all today’s accomplished people onto the back burner? Yes, we have Adele, but I am looking beyond the popular-music realm to the broad areas of accomplishment alluded to above and asking where, fer chrissakes, are the glamorous neurophysicists? Where are the charismatic, overachieving innovators and inventors? Steve Jobs? A unicorn! A lone example. You are going to have to do better than that if you wish to upend my hypothesis.
After extensive conversations with my inner Bertrand Russell, I have, of course, come up with a theory about the origins of this dire situation. Et voilà!:
We are living in an everyone-is-special-and-there-are-no-losers society. As a result, we are fearful of accomplished people because they can do stuff that we cannot do, and giving them the spotlight would un-level the playing field. We are, as a result, much more comfortable with the famous-for-nothing paradigm, because then, we, the great unexceptional masses, still have shot at celebrity.
P.S.: The one exception in this situation appears to be sports stars. Today athletic prowess seems to be more celebrated than ever. However in order to be really, really, really über-celebrated even a big-name dude needs to attach himself to an audacious woman with an impressive rack.