Saturday, July 17, 2010

Facebook v. the world

Love this from today's New York Times because it's not simply timely and true, it's really fairly sad. Ben Brantley writes first about Garbo, her mystery and fascination. And then about our culture's supposed 'democracy of technology', which honestly has become more of a dictatorship, ironic even to me as I write - oh sorry, blog - this. Brantley starts below:

The world, you see, no longer has any tolerance for — let alone fascination with - people who aren’t willing to publicize themselves. Figures swathed in shadows are démodé in a culture in which the watchword is transparency.

Increasingly, the perception is that everyone is knowable, everyone is accessible and that everyone is potentially a star. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, personal Web sites with open-door chat rooms, the endlessly proliferating television reality shows are now commonplace forums for the famous who want to seem like ordinary people and for ordinary people who want to seem famous. Us magazine’s rubric “Stars, they’re just like us!” has now been inverted to “Us, we’re just like stars.”

The theory appears to be that if you never shut up, no one can forget you. And that to shut up is to withdraw from life. I was seated not long ago next to a magazine editor, discussing a former glamour girl who had disappeared to a farm in South America. “I think it’s cool she was able to go cold turkey on being a celebrity,” I said. The editor answered sadly: “Really? I see it as giving up.”

Fame has become an existential condition: If your image isn’t reflected back at you, then how do you know you’re alive? The problem is that, people being people, 24-hour visibility will ultimately breed if not contempt, then weary familiarity. That’s why the tabloids need a new generation of cover girls and boys every year or so, a breeding process facilitated by reality television. Jake, Vienna, Heidi, Spencer: blink and you’ll miss them, though you can bet they’ll keep using Twitter until they die.

A hunger abides in us to see mere mortals approaching perfection and I, for one, would just as soon not be asked to separate the dancer from the dance, or for that matter the beauty from the beauty....When we first fall in love with people, they always seem remote, unattainable. Holding on to love after you’ve crossed the divide between you and the object of your desire is a chapter in achieving maturity; it’s what marriage is supposed to be. But there’s a part of us that needs to keep falling in love with the girl in the mists in the distance or the boy riding away on a horse. You’ve been there, I’m sure, and you know what happens when these dream girls and boys open their mouths or scratch themselves. The mystery dissolves like fog at sunrise.

So to honor a nearly forgotten time when there was romance in the unspoken, and human mystery wasn’t something that could be solved by the end of a television episode, might we now have a moment of silence?

No? I didn’t think so.

-- JC

1 comment:

  1. Charlotte12:12 AM

    Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!
    I love you Janet Bette Champ! --Charlotte