Thursday, August 27, 2009
America's Celebrity Shortage
With the recent deaths of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Karl Malden, Pat Hingle, Billy Mays, Les Paul and now Sen. Ted Kennedy and Dominick Dunne, America is facing a crisis unlike one it has ever seen before: a serious shortage of celebrities. This crisis is showing no signs of abating. The grim reaper has had a busy season indeed. If this trend continues, there is much speculation that we will have to begin importing celebrities from such far flung places as France, Italy, Russia and -- gasp -- India (we understand that Bollywood is gaining fast traction on our own celebrity culture).
What will that mean in terms of our celebrity economy? It may translate to higher costs for us. The price of importing just one major star from France of the caliber of, say, Jean Reno could cost each American as much as 12 Euros. That's more than US$17. That may not sound like much, but over the course of any young or middle aged celebrity's life expectancy, those costs add up. And that's only for one! Imagine if we import a dozen or more. (Perhaps we could get a bulk discount).
Another disadvantage of celebrity importation is twofold. On one hand, of course, is the possible culture shock that we as a nation will suffer by having Russian rock stars parading around. It will be difficult, at best to become acclimated to the news of members of Grazhdanskaya Oborona trashing a hotel room or its lead singer OD-ing in his girlfriend's apartment on the Upper West Side. It simply won't give us the same secret thrill; it's potency will be lost. The second prong of this two-part conundrum is that the imported celebrity themselves will be spread a bit thin. And we, as Americans, just aren't used to sharing.
Of course I realize that we are already importing several celebrities and have been for years. Among them: David Beckham, Ozzy Osbourne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Craig Furgeson, Heidi Klum and Rush Limbaugh. But these folks are already ingrained into the American culture. We have no time or resources for re-training new celebrities.
But we must remember to refrain from panicking. New stars are born every day. And with the advent of social networking, blogging, reality TV and self-publishing, you could be our big star. So have faith, keep your opinions floating on the Web and in chat rooms and that call may come.