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In my heyday, when I worked for Time Warner and ICM (then one of the largest entertainment agencies in the world), I was something of a marketing genius.

I thought outside the box. And I was up on all the latest technologies.

I haven’t done anything vaguely promotional in decades, and it’s a point of honor with me to ignore as many of the latest technologies as possible. Technologies come; they hover in the cultural imagination briefly, beating their wings like dying mayflies. And then they disappear.

That’s the current cycle.

One imagines that some day – maybe soon – this mad technological acceleration will stop. But I think it will keep going so long as supplier-induced demand (i.e. marketing) continues to be a force.

Boy Genius and Peter Thiel – bestest pals in real life, it turns out – both think the Civil War is coming. Boy Genius even has a timeline: 99 months.

I hate it when current events give credence to Boy Genius’s wacky theories. Like when BernieBros lose it bigtime at Republican baseball games. But then, why should Islamic terrorist get to have all the fun, right?

Anyway, I still think outside the box.

###

I bring this up because four people in the past few weeks have asked, “So! Do you have a Patreon account?”

And me being me, and having this weird point-of-honor thing about making art in obscurity because it’s purer to be exploited by Da Man (ri-i-i-ght…) then to coax people to pay for stuff you like to do, instead of answering, “Of course! Give me money! I’ll email you the particulars!” and scampering off to create a Patreon account, I merely answered, “Nah.”

Maybe I sighed.

Then yesterday, [personal profile] sulphuroxide and I had a long conversation about insta-celebrity. About repackaging me as an insta-celebrity.

“They make money!” [personal profile] sulphuroxide pointed out. “And lots of people out there would be willing to support you. It’s better than working for the Scut Factory!”

Ya think?

Of course, I’m absolutely the wrong demographic for insta-celebrity being 65 years old and all. Although one could argue that merely represents an unexploited niche!

And I am excessively charming in – ha, ha, ha – real life. Charismatic even. At least, when I’m not in one of my isolationist funks. I also have this bizarre drawling voice that makes it seem as though I’m imparting hot gossip even when I’m discussing Nietzsche.

Anyway. Something to think about.

I have approximately 400 pages of two highly entertaining novels on my hard drive.

It’s pretty obvious that the old publication models – snag the agent, snag the book contract – are obsolete.

Even if I didn’t go the YouTube star route, there should be some way I can do something with those.

No, not epublishing and pimping on Amazon: While it’s true that a few people (most notably the Fifty Shades of Gray writer) have used self-publishing as an avenue to success, for the most part, all self-publishing does is add dollars to Jeff Bezos’s swelling coffers.

Something more… interactive.

I’ll have to give the matter more thought. Outside the box, of course.

###

In other news, here’s what 60s femme fatale Anita Pallenberg looked like just before her recent death:

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And here's what she looked like in her ravishing youth:

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They are dropping like flies, those cultural icons of my long-ago, misspent youth.
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It isn’t as though more celebrities died in 2016.

It’s that there are more celebrities. And hey! they gotta die sometime.

###

In 2013, Wired Magazine actually attempted to quantify the number of famous people on the planet. They somehow came up with the figure 0.000086, but of course, that’s 0.000086 of seven billion, which works out to approximately 600,000.

Six hundred thousand celebrities!

That number is probably higher today.

###

What is a celebrity?

The word was originally a synonym for fame

And then it became an anthropomorphization for someone who possesses fame.

Thus a “celebrity,” in the most essential sense, is someone who exerts influence by being famous. He or she may have become famous through various accomplishments – movie roles, political offices, polio cures – but that accomplishment is not what determines celebrity status and increasingly, is actually irrelevant to celebrity status.

So what does determine celebrity status?

###

In 1994, I wrote an article titled "Elvis sighted in ancient Rome!" This piece, published in the relatively obscure Whole Earth Review, generated a fair amount of traction. For several weeks after its publication, national radio shows clamored to get interviews with me. This was considerably post-Liz-and-Dick – which we enlightened anthropologists from the planet Mars now recognize as the first manifestation of unadulterated “celebrity” in modern times – but before the Internet had become a state-of-the-art celebrity stamping machine. The National Enquirer was still held in contempt by most intellectuals, and my cheerful admission that not only did I study it scrupulously every week but that I also studied The Globe and Star immediately made me a suspicious character to the eggheads who were interviewing me.

“Do you read People?” one interviewer asked me.

“Never!” I said. “They just take National Enquirer stories and spruce up the adjectives. They don’t even pay for their stories!”

Of course, a couple of months later, I was working for People.

My thesis was very simple: Celebrities have psychological power because they key into collective archetypes. These archetypes represent niches that are embedded into some deep substrate of ontological thought. Liz Taylor is only the most recent embodiment of Helen of Troy. Elvis is a just another reboot of those beautiful Greek boys who died staring at themselves in reflecting surfaces and who, oddly, inevitably, were transformed into flowers.

You wanna template for contemporary culture? Read Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Of course, this thesis wasn’t necessarily original to me: Sexual Personae had already been published. I was and remain a big Camille Paglia fan: Even when she’s pigheaded, which she is a significant portion of the time, Paglia is always interesting. Even enlightening.

But it was something I’d been musing on my entire life, long before I encountered Paglia.

Four things got me through my exceedingly painful childhood and adolescence: LSD, Victorian and neo-Victorian British literature, movie magazines, and my obsession with and encyclopedic knowledge of Egyptian, Greek, and Norse mythology.

###

Browsing the Internet feels intimate. There you sit in some kind of reverie, engaging in one-on-one communion with your computer/iPad/smartphone/whatever. It’s hard to shake the subconscious belief that what you’re reading, watching, hearing on that little LED screen isn’t your own mind talking back to you. Your own weird little accretion of interests and obsessions made manifest.

When all is said and done, the Internet isn’t a channel for the dissemination of information or a facilitator of human communication. No. It’s a tremendously efficient niche-marketing engine.

And celebrity, is the ultimate niche market.

So, of course, celebrity is gonna multiply in the age of the Internet.

###

All of which is a very longwinded way of saying that while George Michael’s demise left me completely unmoved, Carrie Fisher’s death made me sad.

The George Michael niche: Male, British, gay, cheesy, drugs, 1980s, hips, thrust, lewd encounters in public lavatories, confusion with Boy George –

The Carrie Fisher niche: Liz and Eddie, Liz and Dick, female, Star Wars, writer, wit, drugs, When Harry Met Sally, romantic disappointments, gallantry, service animal –

Well. I think you can see which side of the fence I'd come down on.

###

In other news, snowcapalypse forecast for tomorrow, starting perhaps as early as this very afternoon.

Yesterday, it was 60 degrees out! I went for a longish hike since I’m still feeling too bloated from Christmas sweets to actively participate in raising my heart rate much over 100 beats per minute.

It was very pretty out. Springlike, you might say. I felt like a little battery, storing up as much radiant solar energy as possible. This time of year is very hard for me, so-o-o dark.

I was supposed to meet up with ____ tomorrow, so he could tell me all about his latest romantic misadventures, but snowstorm? I ain’t leaving the casa! Not even to be taken out to dinner at the incredibly expensive Bistro restaurant in Rhinebeck.
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I’m relatively lucky, I suppose, that I can hunker down and earn extra money when I need to. Not huge sums of money, but the small sums that are sufficient to my modest needs.

Nonetheless, the whole process is disheartening. I chafe at it; I grow resentful. I think of psychotic Emily Dickinson in her yellow-wallpapered house. I think of Emily, the maddest of the Bronte sisters. I think of millions of human prisoners locked away century after century, a honeycomb of white stone cells. I feel sorry for myself, in other words.

It’s some quirk in my mind. What I’m feeling right now, right at this very millisecond, is what I’ve always been feeling from the very beginning of time. No alteration is possible.

It’s very Zen in a way. Though not quite what Ram Dass was thinking when he said, “Be here now.”

###

It’s looking as though Prince OD’d on Percocet, which makes me kind of sad. Not entirely clear whether the Percocet was recreational or whether he was using it as an analgesic. Apparently, he ruined his hips prancing around in 6-inch stiletto heels. (Real Housewives be warned!)

I often wonder why anyone pursues fame in the relentless, unwavering way that Prince did. I mean, the pursuit of money I can understand. But fame? They all seem to die miserable and constipated. Fame, it turns out, is never a big enough rush. Eventually, they all turn to opiates.

As an opiate lover myself, I can relate.

But then, why not just eliminate the middleman? Legalize heroin so we can all be Emily Dickinsons with yellow wallpaper, but stoned Emily Dickinsons with yellow wallpaper?

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