Paris 1967, Paris 2007

Well, time to turn to serious matters after such the logical diversions … No doubt you’ve all supported the campaign to absolve Paris Hilton from her prison sentence: after all, in the words of the petition, “She provides hope for young people all over the U.S. and the world. She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives.” I couldn’t have put it better.

But Guy Debord did, forty years ago (albeit in a French style which isn’t quite mine!):

Behind the glitter of spectacular distractions, a tendency toward making everything banal dominates modern society the world over, even where the more advanced forms of commodity consumption have seemingly multiplied the variety of roles and objects to choose from. … The celebrity, the spectacular representation of a living human being, embodies this banality by embodying the image of a possible role. As specialists of apparent life, stars serve as superficial objects that people can identify with in order to compensate for the fragmented working lives that they actually live. Celebrities exist to act out in an unfettered way various styles of living … They embody the inaccessible result of social labour by dramatizing its by-products of power and leisure (magically projecting them). The celebrity who stars in the spectacle is the opposite of the individual, the enemy of the individual in herself as well as in others. Passing into the spectacle as a model for identification, the celebrity renounces all autonomous qualities …

And there is much more in the same vein, in his La société du spectacle, which I’ve been looking at again (so long after my mispent youth in various leftist groups interminably debating such ideas). Paris 1967 anticipates Paris 2007.

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