Sunday, November 23, 2008

The lumpen celebritariat

"The celebritariat—and the illusion of easy access to it—has played the role in postwar Britain that my father expected to be played by the educational meritocracy. The Rise of the Meritocracy ends with a riot at Peterloo in which the disenfranchised masses overthrow their new masters. This is largely because the meritocratic class has become so efficient at identifying the most able children at birth that the ones left behind have no hope of making it. Will the day come when the celebritariat endangers its own existence by becoming a self-perpetuating elite, closed off to new members? There are signs that this is beginning to happen, with the children of famous people inheriting their celebrity status, just as aristocrats inherited their parents estates. It sounds odd to say it, but for those like my father who dream of turning Britain into a socialist paradise, the greatest cause for hope may be the existence of Peaches Geldof." —Toby Young, son of social activist and sociologist Michael Young

1 comment:

Citizen Dave said...

I saw this too, it was a really thought-provoking piece. Remember how Paine railed against the idea of heriditary mathematications? One of the reasons why public culture is so uninspiring is precisely because of heriditary film stars, pop singers and other such dreary people. Perhaps there is hope in a different direction though, as the Net subverts the broadcast era's construction and propagation of winner-takes-all celebrity "cuklture".