Ordinary People

Today, while I was still booting my computer, I oscillated between writing one article or the other which I had in mind. I clicked for the next booting phase and got my answer by chance. A large photo of Don Lemon flashed on the screen along with a headline announcing his income, “2 Million per year.” I immediately thought: “What a coincidence!  That Internet item is perfect for the opening sentence of one of those two articles.

On that same page, there was a tab: NEXT. I clicked for the next page. On the next page was a large photo of Anderson Cooper… “$12 million per year!”  I thought, “The article is writing itself!” I thought, “Wow, two lead photos and text in a row on a multi-page article that is writing itself! Could there be a similar photo next ?”  I again clicked, NEXT. Yes, there was another page  similar in both content and form, page after page. ‘My’ article was continuing to write itself although for a purpose other than mine.  

“George Stephanopoulos , 15 million per year…Kelly Ripa, net worth, 120 million, annual salary, 22 million…John King, 2 million per year, (editor’s comments: “expected to rise exponentially. He should be getting more!”) … Dr. Phil, “79 million per year…Gordon Ramsay, 60 million per year…Kamala Harris, 5.4 million-dollar home, Chris Wallace, net worth, $25 million” …and so on.

At that point, I stopped taking notes. True to its widely desultory form, the internet made no point, page after page, other than the self-evident display of celebrity wealth. 

I planned to proof the text to check my accuracy in terms of details, but decided that (1) accuracy in this instance is relatively unimportant and (2) I don’t see much substantive difference between one million dollars and tens of millions.  In addition to that, the article in general speaks for itself. 

Being worlds apart from celebrities and barely hanging on financially, I’m not even sure of the purpose of the article apart from gossip, except for a phenomenon I’ve noticed since I was in my early twenties. The life-blood of celebrity depends on its exclusivity. Celebrity requires that celebrities talk about each other, are seen together, and especially in the world of entertainment, that they do their ‘thing’ with other celebrities. At interviews they don’t talk about other celebrities because other celebrities are the only people with whom they mingle, but rather to underscore that they belong where they are.

Whatever their common denominators may be, famous people are not necessarily notably intelligent, no offence intended. The reason for their extraordinary incomes cited above is primarily economics. If someone draws the attention of millions of people, even if it is just because of extraordinarily good looks or — in sports — extra motor skills and muscle power, there is huge competition amongst corporations to employ that individual as a spokesperson for their services or products.  There is no evidence that exceptional intelligence is a critical characteristic of the famous (again, no offence intended). But Tevya, a lovable character in the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, says it better than I in his song, If I Were a Rich Man. Even Einstein, an icon of fame, was not very intelligent in his private life even though his Space and Time theories are unparalleled in brilliance.

In the political world, the need to appear in charge manifests itself in very sophisticated ways. For example, if two heads of state are about to exit through a door together after a public televised press conference, both of them juggle their exits as they walk toward the door, so as to be in a position to pat the other on the back and gesture ‘you first,’ thereby not merely to appear gracious but, more importantly, to appear as the senior statesman of the two. 

And, in the world of celebrities, it is fame itself that perpetuates the fame of celebrities, many of whom are basically ordinary people. (Again, no offence intended.)

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