Dead Celebrities, Living Icons: Tragedy and Fame in the Age of the Multimedia Superstar

Dead Celebrities, Living Icons: Tragedy and Fame in the Age of the Multimedia Superstar

Dead Celebrities, Living Icons: Tragedy and Fame in the Age of the Multimedia Superstar

Dead Celebrities, Living Icons: Tragedy and Fame in the Age of the Multimedia Superstar

Synopsis

We know their likes and dislikes, admire their talents, envy them for daring to be what we can't or what we won't. When they are snatched from us, we feel a personal loss and an unwillingness to let go. And so we transform these mere human beings into icons whose stars often shine in death even more brilliantly than in life.

"Dead Celebrities, Living Icons: Tragedy and Fame in the Age of the Multimedia Superstar" explores this phenomenon through a series of essays on 14 men and women who are, arguably, the most famous people of the 20th and early 21st centuries. The book covers the epoch of the celebrity beginning in the 1930s with Howard Hughes and Walt Disney and continues to the present day with the life and death of Michael Jackson. Far more than just a collection of biographies, "Dead Celebrities, Living Icons" documents the philosophical importance and significance of the contemporary cult of the celebrity and analyzes the tragic consequences of a human life lived in the glare of the media spotlight.

Excerpt

Worshipped as heroes, divinized, the stars are more than objects of admira
tion. They are also subjects of a cult. A religion in embryo has formed
around them. This religion diffuses its frenzies over most of the globe. No
one who frequents the dark auditoriums is really an atheist.

—Edgar Morin

On the night of August 30, 1997, Dodi Fayed came up with a plan to elude the paparazzi who had been stalking him and Diana. They would send a decoy car out the front of the Hotel Ritz while he and Diana would escape out the back in their black Mercedes. Henri Paul, the acting security manager of the Hotel Ritz, was selected to drive the car, although he was not Fayed’s chauffeur and did not even have a chauffeur’s license. In addition, autopsies by French authorities later concluded that he was legally drunk at the time of the accident and also had antidepressants in his system. They departed from the Ritz Hotel at about 12:20 A.M. with Henri Paul in the driver’s seat, Trevor ReesJones—Dodi’s bodyguard—beside him, Dodi himself sitting in the back behind the driver, and Diana beside him on the passenger’s side.

Before leaving, Paul had gone around the front of the hotel and taunted the paparazzi that they would never catch up, thus revealing the whole plan. Hence, when they pulled away from the curb, a handful of paparazzi on motorcycles were already in pursuit. Paul traveled south on the rue Cambon and then turned right on the rue de Rivoli. Instead of turning on the Champs-Elysees where streetlights would have required . . .

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