One thing we don’t cover about history, is how bad everything was, and just how recently. The era covered in today’s video (ca. 1710-1711) came AFTER the United Kingdom’s great revolution in governance. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 supposedly set in motion the chain of events that gave us modern parliamentary democracy. This country subjected to the mad whims of a love triangle was one of the freest and best run in the world at the time. After Queen Anne’s death, the British crown was given to a bunch of German protestants, who initially didn’t even speak English, helping constitutional development along. But as recently as 105 years ago, most powerful countries in the world were subjected to personal rule of one degree or another.
Royalty discredited itself by leading us into the disaster that was World War One, and what was true 105 years ago was not true 95 years ago. Kings quickly slipped away, but we really seem to miss them, in defiance of all history and logic. The current discontent with our representative institutions in Europe and the United States leads me to believe that this warping of history is hurting us. We don’t realize just how much worse things were, and just how recently.
Celebrities are dying left and right. It’s only going to accelerate. But, as with much about the world it has got a lot more to do with how we look at things than anything concrete that is actually happening. More celebrities seem to be dying because we care more about more celebrities than we ever have before.
The genesis of this one is kind of interesting. With the majority of my videos I’m drawing on a ton of sources. The video produced is usually a synthesis of a number of things that I can tell myself is very much my own. That’s not so much the case here. There’s some of my own thought involved, but the most interesting thing about the video, the explanation for the acceleration in celebrity deaths, is completely drawn from one article. And I can’t find that article. It’s frustrating. There are few things more annoying than taking credit for other people’s ideas. Though I’m sure I unwittingly do it all the time, this time I know I am doing it. If any of you are familiar with the source that I got this stuff from, please let me know.
I’m not really a big celebrity guy. In early 2005 I threw a “Dead Celebrity Party” memorialized in the thumbnail for this video. It’s still one of the best parties I’ve ever thrown. The cult of celebrity holds few charms for me. Though I must admit, if I’m in a supermarket checkout lane I’ll guiltily read the tabloid headlines with some interest. But, I do think our celebrity obsession is bad for us. The worship of celebrity strikes me as a throw-back to an earlier and worse era, as I alluded to here….
We live in a more democratic age, but reading news about Kim and Kanye is part of an old-time desire to know more about our “betters”. We don’t have much of a hereditary aristocracy anymore, so celebrities fill the breach. If you doubt this interpretation, look at the treatment of the few real aristocrats that are left. The travails of the British Royal Family are reported on with exactly the same fervor and worship that is devoted to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I don’t like celebrity culture because I refuse to concede that we have “betters”. The struggles of the aesthetically or monetarily gifted are no more interesting than our own.
So why do a video about celebrities? Views obviously. But beyond that, I feel like it’s a big enough part of our culture that I have to address it occasionally. One must deal with the facts on the ground. Also it would be a bit hypocritical to avoid the subject. Paradoxically, if I avoid talking about celebrities on democratic principles I am actually acting in an anti-democratic fashion. The people want to talk about celebrities. Who am I to deny them that? Plus I got to talk about Bob Ross and his happy little trees, which makes me happy.