Source: Tom Dispatch
[A longer version of this essay appears in “Celebrity,” the Winter 2011 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly and is posted at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of that magazine.]
Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
Till by broad spreading it disperse to nought.
— William Shakespeare
Label celebrity a consumer society’s most precious consumer product, and eventually it becomes the hero with a thousand faces, the packaging of the society’s art and politics, the framework of its commerce, and the stuff of its religion. Such a society is the one that America has been attempting to make for itself since John F. Kennedy was king in Camelot, and the collective effort — nearly 50 years of dancing with the stars under the disco balls in Hollywood, Washington, and Wall Street — deserves an appreciation of the historical antecedents.