Worshippers at the Shroe of St Tara of Klosters

By Moore, Suzanne | New Statesman (1996), November 22, 1999 | Go to article overview

Worshippers at the Shroe of St Tara of Klosters


Moore, Suzanne, New Statesman (1996)


Fame looks like the new religion. But, argues Suzanne Moore, we pick and choose famous people like any other consumer products

The growth industry of the nineties has been the culture of celebrity. Never have so many people been famous for so little. Never have so many people been interested in others just because they are famous for more than 15 seconds. Never have we been so preoccupied with the private lives of those whom we elect to be public figures. And who shall we ask to explain all this? Who can tell us about why and how this is happening?

Shall we ask Madonna, who once sang "I traded fame for love" and now decides "I've changed my mind"? Shall we ask the recipient of that prestigious award, Sunglasses-Wearer of the Year 1998, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, what it's all about? How did she, a friend of the royals, give Charles a peck on the cheek while kitted out in tight ski-wear and thus manage overnight to become, in her own inimitable words, "a personality type-thing"? Shall we ask Maureen Rees, a cleaner who couldn't drive very well in a docu-soap but ended up opening supermarkets and making records because she was just so ordinary?

Should we go to Emma Noble, famous for wearing very little and marrying the ex-prime minister's son, what she feels about the society of the spectacle? Or will we fall back on the familiar line that an obsession with celebrity is irredeemably a bad thing, the sign of an emotionally impoverished way of life, that shows we are all dupes, passive consumers of the celebrity industry?

I, too, would like to carp from the sidelines. I would like to say that we are all too preoccupied with the shallow and the frivolous, that this is terribly unhealthy, that I have never been drawn to Hello! or OK magazine, where A tells us how she has risen above her troubles, B and C present their new baby son, D and B are fantastically in love in their beautiful new home. I would like to be above or beneath all this. I would like to say that I have never been impressed by being in the same room as X,Y and Z.

I would like to be pure.

However, I no longer believe -- if I ever did -- that there are any sidelines from which one can merely observe the cult of celebrity. The fantasy of purity is just that -- a fantasy. You may dismiss Hello!, you may dismiss the tabloids and Hollywood and all of TV. You may, if you like, dismiss much of the media and imagine that if you stick to your serious newspapers you can avoid the crassness of everyday life, that you don't know Gary Glitter or Hugh Grant, that you have never heard of Liz Hurley or Charlie Dimmock, that you couldn't care less.

But you wouldn't be telling the whole truth, would you? For we are all stakeholders, to a smaller or larger degree, in this celebrity business. Our interest, our appetite, our desire sustain it, create it, pay for it.

There have always been famous people. But the growth of the mass media, particularly in the past decade, has produced an unforeseen worship of the famous that is deeply troubling. One might suggest that the culture of celebrity is one of the most unremarked aspects of this thing called globalisation, that as the world becomes a more uncertain and fragmented place, celebrity culture provides some strange form of social glue which holds us together. Naomi Campbell fawning over Nelson Mandela shows us that everything can somehow be connected, everything brought together.

Yet the way we understand the new world order of celebrity is resolutely old fashioned. Critics always talk of celebrity as the new secular religion. Robert Hughes spoke of the "poor, depleted souls" who gathered together to try and buy Jackie 0's paraphernalia as being like "13th-century peasants trying to touch the withered bones of some saint".

The standard old left dismissal of those who mourned Diana amounted to little more than a rerun of the "opium of the masses" argument.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Worshippers at the Shroe of St Tara of Klosters
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.