As you get older, you start to observe meta-trends that extend over your entire lifetime. One such trend is how celebrities–in particular, actors, singers and the talentless, pitiful super-wealthy–have spread their influence over a larger and larger part of our culture. There have always been celebrity endorsements. But then came the celebrity activist and, more recently, performers replacing models in ads in magazines. We’ve also got celebrities as brand, where a startling variety of the famous and the semi-famous are producing and selling a startling array of products.
Many of our house guests left books behind. Two of these are Eat, Pray, Love (a book that apparently every woman in Western civilization is reading) and Emily’s Reasons Why Not. I was recently pawing through our bookshelf, and noticed that both of these books had received endorsements from unlikely literary critics.
The scholarly Britney Spears is quoted on the back of Eat, Pray, Love as saying “A good read. I can’t get away from it.”. Brittany Murphy gives us a reason to read Emily’s Reasons Why Not, saying she’d like to see “Emily Sanders [the book’s heroine], Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw meet for lunch.” Or rather, somebody’s publicist wrote that quote for Brittany, and she signed off on it.
I do my best to ignore celebrity culture in general, and in particular the current generation of drug-addled starlets eager to crash their cars for and expose their genitals to a fervent public. When’s it going to stop? Never. It’s just a sign of the times that the average actor or singer thinks they’re a book critic. It’s a shame that the publishing industry fosters such behaviour, and a great shame that the public cares about what a drug-addicted pop star thinks of a novel.
UPDATE: I’m aware of the potential irony of this entry following one in praise of a musician turned NPR blogger. However, I don’t think Ms. Brownstein got the blogging gig because of her fame (Sleater-Kinney isn’t exactly a household name). She got it because she’s a decent writer and knows a lot about music.