Things turn very frivolous around this time of year. Barf-inducing parties given by pop-culture schlock merchants selling their wares are a nightly transgression. The hacks duly report the shenanigans of doped-up rappers the next day as once upon a time they detailed the haut monde. London isn’t much better. Last week, at the British Fashion Awards, a designer by the name of Jonathan Anderson said that he was ‘honoured to be on the same stage as Karl Lagerfeld’ — a bum-clenchingly vapid pronouncement if ever I’ve heard one. Lagerfeld is a preening, self-important freak whose trademark is rudeness and that other badge of ultimate ghastliness, the ponytail.
Over on these shores, things are just as bad, except Congress hasn’t as yet invited Angelina Jolie to enlighten it with her plan to save Africa, as a parliamentary committee did over in dear old England. What is it with these modern celebrities? How can they be so uninformed, dumb, full of themselves and arrogant? And how can the public swallow the hype that the PR hucksters put out about them daily? The word ‘hype’ derives from the Greek hyperbole, and there’s nothing elegant about it. It debases the truth, as well as the language, and is often duplicitous and outrageous.
I remember 40 years or so ago, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, a self-invented but very nice lady Diana Vreeland, responded to everything with ‘fabulous’. The word fabulous became her mask, her defence, almost a way of life. By calling everything fabulous la Vreeland kept everyone in the dark and off balance. It vitiated the power of the sales pitch. An item could be inferior or superior but Vreeland said it was fabulous and that was that.
Vreeland, however, had terrific taste. She loved worthy fashion and talented people. In order to keep the peace she called everything fabulous. The trouble is that the bullshit stuck after she had lost power. Now everything and everyone is fabulous, and fashion has never been uglier and designers less talented. But the latter are Olympian gods when compared with professional celebrities such as the Kardashians and the Hiltons, both families for ever with us, and everywhere, like herpes.
If I were a suspicious fella, I’d think it was a cover for more nefarious goals. In other words, they are putting us to sleep with hype while sinister forces seize power. No such luck. The whole western world has turned sleazy and it needs hype for its fulfilment. Last week the egregious NY Times reported an after-movie party at the New York Library, describing a certain Carole Radziwill as a writer. Carole Radziwill is as much a writer as I am a transgender chap, but never mind, hoodwinking the public is what the Times does daily, so why not describe a hard-charging girl from the sticks like Carole as a writer?
People in big cities covered by TV and national newspapers no longer do anything without one eye on the celebrity merry-go-round. Twenty years after I appeared on a morning show in Chicago, a woman rubbernecked me on Fifth Avenue and shouted that I was great on Donahue. Imagine if I had written something of value. Yes, in 1982 I appeared on a morning show in Chicago, made fun of unbridled feminism, easily got the better of the idiotic host, and 20 years later some moronic woman still remembered. Nurse, help!
Oh yes, I almost forgot. Everyone’s a hero nowadays. We want and need heroes and there are so few natural ones around. Perhaps that’s why we have to keep inventing them. A one-time Olympic gold medal winner in the decathlon, the toughest of all track and field events, changes sex 40 years after his victory and Vanity Fair sticks her on the cover. I’ve said this before, but if a Martian came down and read the NY Times or listened to the TV news, he would definitely think that this planet is inhabited by transgender men and women, lesbians, bisexuals, bondage/dominance/submission types, and a few white beer-drinking truck drivers who spend their days and nights shooting black and Hispanic people.
Once upon a time there were barbers who cut men’s hair and hairdressers who took care of women. Sometime during the Sixties, a hairdresser by the name of Alexandre became the sine qua non among Parisian ladies of a certain class, and since then his profession has never looked back. Hairdressers became more sought after than rich old men, and now they’re more famous than their clients and some are multimillionaires.
Hype made Trump, and the Donald is still leading in the polls, a fact I cherish. So there are good things about hype, but except for Donald Trump I can’t think of any. But Trump hypes himself. He is not hyped by an army of PR jerks. Actually, what Trump does is anti-hype: he tells it like it is and the proles love it. Up in Massachusetts, in front of a blue-collar 100 per cent democratic audience, he was cheered to the rafters. The NY Times propagandist covering him was so shocked he didn’t file a story about it.
But now I must stop and organise my Christmas party. This year it’s uptown and more selective than usual. The Donald is invited but I doubt he’ll make it.
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